From:  Over 50 Interpreters Explain the Gospel of Luke Return to Home 

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.  © 2015

 

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CHAPTER FIVE

Verses 1-39

 

 

 

Books Utilized Codes at end of chapter.

 

 

 

5:1                                                       Translations

Weymouth:    On one occasion the crowd was pressing on Him and listening to God's Message, while He was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.

WEB:              Now it happened, while the multitude pressed on him and heard the word of God, that he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret.    

Young’s:         And it came to pass, in the multitude pressing on him to hear the word of God, that he was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret,
Conte (RC):   Now it happened that, when the crowds pressed toward him, so that they might hear the word of God, he was standing beside the
lake of Genesaret.

 

5:1                   And it came to pass.  Luke must, we think, have placed [this] at Capernaum, since the boat which He entered into (verse 1) was Simon’s.  So we see that, after having spoken of His continuous missionary work as about to begin (4:43), he pauses to describe the special calling of certain disciples, as explaining their subsequent companionship.  For it is to be noted that hitherto, so far as appears from Luke, and from other Synoptics, our Saviour has moved about and taught alone.  We hear of no associate with Him at Nazareth, and Peter is named in 4:38, as a stranger.  [52]      

                        that as the people pressed upon Him to hear.  His fame as a great Teacher was evidently now firmly established.  If it were known that he intended speaking in public, a crowd of listeners would gather quickly round him,  whether in the synagogues, or by the lake-shore, or in the market-place.  [18]

                        Mark (as is his wont) uses a stronger word to express the physical inconvenience, and adds that sometimes at any rate, it was with a view to touch Him and be healed (3:9, 10).  [56]

                        the word of God.  What Jesus poke concerning himself and the kingdom, was God’s word, because God gave it to Him to speak, and because it was a constant revelation of God’s holy and merciful name [= nature?].  [52]

                        by the Lake of Gennesaret.  Luke alone, writing for the Greeks, accurately calls it a lake.  The Galilaean and Jewish Evangelists unconsciously follow the Hebrew idiom which applies the name yam “sea,” to every piece of water.  [56]

This inland sea or lake is called by various names.  I.  The Sea of Galilee (Matt. iv. 18); through it the Jordan flows, along the east side of the province so called.  2.  The Sea (or Lake) of Tiberias, from a city built by Herod on the south-west shore, and named in honor of the Emperor Tiberius.  (See John vi. 1, xx. 1.  3.)  The Lake of Gennescaret, in Hebrew, Cinnereth (Deut. 111, 17), or Cinneroth (1 Kings xvi. 20), from a city and a district on the western shore.  (Josh. xix. 35; Num. xxxiv. 11.)  This lake is of an oval shape, about thirteen geographical miles long and six broad.  The river Jordan enters it at its northern end, and passes out at its southern end.  [9]

                        In our Lord's time it was surrounded by the richest and most populous district of the Holy Land; large and flourishing towns were built along its shores.  Capernaum, as has been said, was the junction of the great roads leading from Syria and the far East to the Mediterranean on the west, and Jerusalem and Egypt on the south.  The lake was famous for its fish, and was crowded with all descriptions of craft.  [18]

                        It belonged to the tribe of Naphtali (Deuteronomy 33:33) and the Rabbis said that of the “seven seas” of Canaan, it was the only one which God had reserved for Himself.  In our Lord’s time it was covered with a numerous fleet of 4,000 vessels, from ships of war down to fishing boats; now [c. 1900] it is often difficult to find a single crazy boat even at Tiberias, and the Arabs fish mainly by throwing poisoned breadcrumbs into the water near the shore.  As four great roads communicated with the Lake it became a meeting-place for men of many nations—Jews, Galileans, Syrians, Phoenicians, Arabs, Greeks and Romans.  [56]

 

                        In depth:  Significance of facts omitted because already known to Luke's readers [18].  When St. Luke compiled his Gospel, many of the circumstances connected with the early relations of the leaders of Christianity with their Founder were so well known, and had been so often repeated, that it seemed unnecessary to rehearse them afresh; hence to us the seeming abruptness of the introduction of Simon (Peter), James, and John in the scene now about to be related.  In the proceeding, the healing of Simon's wife's mother of a great fever is related without any explanation, as though Simon Peter's connection with he Lord was a fact too well known to require any comment or explanation. 

 

 

5:2                                                       Translations

Weymouth:    He, however, saw two fishing-boats drawn up on the beach (for the men had gone away from them and were washing the nets)

WEB:              He saw two boats standing by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them, and were washing their nets.      

Young’s:         and he saw two boats standing beside the lake, and the fishers, having gone away from them, were washing the nets,
Conte (RC):   And he saw two boats standing beside the lake. But the fishermen had climbed down, and they were washing their nets.

 

5:2                   And saw two ships. The "ships" used on so small a lake were probably no more than fishing-boats, probably without decks and easily drawn up on the beach.  Josephus says there were two hundred and thirty of them on the lake, attended by four or five men each.  This is also clear from the account given of them:  A single large draught of fishes endangered them, and came near sinking them.  [11]

                        standing by the lake.  The phrase implies that they were drawn up out of the water and were lying upon the dry beach for safety.  This shows that they must have been small craft.  [14]

                        Or:  Lying at anchor.  [56]

                        but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.  Cleansing the filth of the fish and sea from the threads of the nets.  [14]

                        If we combine these notices with those in Mark 1:16-20; Matthew 4:18-22, we must suppose that during a discourse of Jesus the four disciples were fishing with a drawnet (amphiblestron) not far from the shore, and within hearing of His voice; and that the rest of the incident (here narrated) took place on the morning after.  The disciples had spent the night in fruitless labour, and now Peter and Andrew were [casting their net into the sea], and James and John mending, their castingnets (diktua), because they felt that it was useless to go on, since night is the best time for fishing.  [56]  

 

 

5:3                                                       Translations

Weymouth:    and going on board one of them, which was Simon's He asked him to push out a little from land. Then He sat down and taught the crowd of people from the boat.

WEB:              He entered into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little from the land. He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.     

Young’s:         and having entered into one of the boats, that was Simon's, he asked him to put back a little from the land, and having sat down, was teaching the multitudes out of the boat.
Conte (RC):   And so, climbing into one of the boats, which belonged to Simon, he asked him to draw back a little from the land. And sitting down, he taught the crowds from the boat.

 

5:3                   And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's.   Simon Peter's.  [11]

                        and prayed [asked, NKJV] that he would thrust out a little from the land.  The reason for this was in the statement that “the people pressed upon Him” (verse 1), and that He Himself was standing on the shore.  That was a very inconvenient position for addressing the great throng whom the reports concerning Him had drawn.  [52]  

                        And He sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.  This was the common posture of Jewish teachers.  They seldom or never spoke to the people standing.  Compare Matthew 5:1.  [11]

                        As in the synagogue of Capernaum--the usual attitude of the Jewish preachers.  [18]

                        On the other hand:  Probably here the unstable position of the boat may have been a chief reason.  [52]

 

 

5:4                                                       Translations

Weymouth:    When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, "Push out into deep water, and let down your nets for a haul."

WEB:              When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch."         

Young’s:         And when he left off speaking, he said unto Simon, 'Put back to the deep, and let down your nets for a draught;'
Conte (RC):   Then, when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, "Lead us into deep water, and release your nets for a catch."

 

5:4                   Now when He had left speaking.  The aorist implies that no sooner was His sermon ended than He at once thought, not of His own fatigue, but of His poor disappointed followers.  [56]

                        He said unto Simon.  Verb in the singular, addressed to Peter as captain.  [52]

                        Launch out.  Go out with your vessels.  [11]

                        into the deep.  Into the sea; a distance from the shore.  It is not improbable that this appeared strange to Peter and served to render the miracle more striking.  Nets were commonly drawn near the shore, in somewhat shoal water.  An order to go, therefore, into the deep, was contrary to the usual rules of fishing.  [11]

                        and let down your nets for a draught [catch, NKJV].  Not necessarily a miraculous draught; it was probably a supernatural knowledge which the Lord had of a shoal of fish to be found in the spot indicated by him to the fishermen.  Tristram ('Natural History of the Bible') says, "The thickness of the shoals of fish is almost incredible to any one who has not witnessed them.  They often cover an area of more than an acre, and when the fish move slowly forward in a mass, and are rising out of the water, they are packed so close together that it appears as if a heavy rain was beating down on the surface of the water."  [18] Also see interpretive options on this in verse 6.

 

 

5:5                                                       Translations

Weymouth:    "Rabbi," replied Peter, "all night long we have worked hard and caught nothing; but at your command I will let down the nets."

WEB:              Simon answered him, "Master, we worked all night, and took nothing; but at your word I will let down the net."          

Young’s:         and Simon answering said to him, 'Master, through the whole night, having laboured, we have taken nothing, but at thy saying I will let down the net.'
Conte (RC):   And in response, Simon said to him: "Teacher, working throughout the night, we caught nothing. But on your word, I will release the net."

 

5:5                   And Simon Peter answering said unto Him, Master.  The word in the original so rendered is not Rabbi, as in the other Gospels, but Teacher.  The Jewish term would not have been understood by the Gentile reader for whom the story was especially intended.  [18]

                        The word is Epistata (in its occasional classic sense of “teacher”) which is peculiar to Luke 5:5, 8:24, 45, 9:33, 49, 17:13.  These are the only places where it occurs.  [56]

                        we have toiled all the night.  The usual time of fishing then (John 21:3).  [16]

                        Peter’s answer delicately hints that there cannot be much use in trying again by daylight, when the more favorable night-time has brought no luck.  [52]

                        To experienced fishermen, the effort [was] a sure failure.  [7]

                        Neveretheless, at Thy word I will let down the net.  Theophylact says, “Before believing, Peter exercises faith in Christ.”  --Meyer.  [52] 

 

 

5:6                                                       Translations

Weymouth:    This they did, and enclosed a vast number of fish; and their nets began to break.

WEB:              When they had done this, they caught a great multitude of fish, and their net was breaking.       

Young’s:         And having done this, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes, and their net was breaking,
Conte (RC):   And when they had done this, they enclosed such a copious multitude of fish that their net was rupturing.

 

5:6                   And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes.  Now, here was a clear miracle, though it may not be possible for us to say in what precisely the miracle consisted.  Some have supposed that the Saviour, by virtue of His Lordship over the inferior creation, actually brought the fish to that particular spot at that particular time.  This seems to be the view of Trench, who says that there "we are to contemplate Christ as the Lord of nature, able by the secret yet mighty magic of His will to wield and guide the unconscious creatures and make them subserve to the higher interests of His kingdom." ("Notes on the Miracles,"  p. 131.)  Others have supposed that by His omniscience He knew that the fish were actually there at the moment, and so, have seen in the result of Peter's casting of the net an evidence of the actual deity of our Lord.  Perhaps it is easier for us to accept this latter explanation, but it is idle for us to speculate on the subject.  The main fact to be observed is that it was a real miracle, attested by one who as a fisherman was well qualified to judge in such a case, and who was himself the human instrument in bringing it to light.  [46] 

                        and their net brake.  Rather, “were beginning to break.”  This breaking net is explained by St. Augustine as the symbol of the Church which now is:  he compares the unrent net to the Church of the future which shall know no schisms.”  [56]

 

 

5:7                                                       Translations

Weymouth:    So they signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them; they came, and they filled both the boats so that they almost sank.

WEB:              They beckoned to their partners in the other boat, that they should come and help them. They came, and filled both boats, so that they began to sink.

Young’s:         and they beckoned to the partners, who are in the other boat, having come, to help them; and they came, and filled both the boats, so that they were sinking.
Conte (RC):  And they signaled to their associates, who were in the other boat, so that they would come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they were nearly submerged.

 

5:7                   And they beckoned.  They were too far off to hear their call.  [7]

                        The word originally means "to nod assent."  And so, generally, "to make a sign."  They made signs because of the distance of the other boat; hardly, as has been suggested, because they were too much amazed to speak.  [2]

                        unto their partners.  The word used is metochois, meaning fellow-workers.  [56]

which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them.  One approach:  It is one of the inimitable touches of truthfulness in the narrative that the instinct of work prevails at first over the sense that a miraculous power has been exerted.  [56]   

                        It should be noted, however, that the Lord neither gives nor implies any rebuke to their priority:  If you are a commercial fisherman, about as fundamental a rule as you ever have is a simple one—when the fish are “running” you catch then; like in now since there is no way of knowing how long they will be. Jesus had promised them a catch; stopping the haul before they had all of it—well, would that not be like turning their backs on His bounty?  [rw]

                        And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.  It wasn’t a case where one was overloaded; in this case both were, making it impossible for either boat to come to the aid of the other.  Until Jesus intervenes.  [rw]

 

 

5:8                                                       Translations

Weymouth:    When Simon Peter saw this, he fell down at the knees of Jesus, and exclaimed, "Master, leave my boat, for I am a sinful man."

WEB:              But Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, Lord."     

Young’s:         And Simon Peter having seen, fell down at the knees of Jesus, saying, 'Depart from me, because I am a sinful man, O lord;'
Conte (RC):   But when Simon Peter had seen this, he fell down at the knees of Jesus, saying, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man."

 

5:8                   When Simon Peter saw it.  Apparently it was only when he saw the boats sinking to the gunwale with their load of fish that the tenderness and majesty of the miracle flashed upon his mind.  [56]

                        he fell down at Jesus’ knees.  Had Jesus been mere man, He [would have] rebuked him (Acts 14:15).  [7]

                        saying, Depart from me.  This is an expression of Peter's humility and his consciousness of his unworthiness.  It was not from want of love of Jesus; but it was the result of being convinced that Jesus was a Messenger from God and he felt he was unworthy to be in his presence.  In his deep consciousness of sin, therefore, he requested that Jesus would depart from him and his little vessel.  It was an involuntary, sudden request and arose from ignorance of the character of Jesus.  [11]

                        I am a sinful man, O Lord.  It is his state of which he speaks and not particular transgressions.  What he is, not what he has done, utterly unfits him for the Divine presence.  [40]    

                        The Greek has two words for man—anthropos, a general term for “human being;” and aner for “a man.”  The use of the latter here shows that Peter’s confession is individual, not general. [56]

                        In depth:  Old Testament precedent for Peter's sense of sinfulness [45].  Just such sinful men, come to themselves, most deeply conscious of their sinfulness, the Lord needs to be His messengers.  It is the mark of most of them, that at the moment when they have seen the glory of their Lord and got their call to be His ministers, they are then most overcome with a sense of their own unworthiness.  When Moses got that sight of the glory, that revelation of the grace of Jehovah he had so earnestly besought, "he made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.  And he said, If now I have found grace in Thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray Thee, go among us; for it is a stiff-necked people" (Exodus 34:8-9).  Isaiah's well-known cry of "unclean lips" when he saw the Lord and spake of His glory was followed by his ready, "Here am I; send me" (Isaiah 6).  Jeremiah, sanctified from the womb, ordained to be a prophet, when the first call to actual ministry came, replied,  "Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak:  for I am a child" (Jeremiah 1:6).  Saul of Tarsus, prostrate on the ground, blinded by the vision of the Lord whom he was persecuting--the proud Pharisee melted in a moment by that sight into childlike humbleness and submission--cries, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6).  The point of spiritual similarity in all these instances is notable. 

                        Other cases [56]:  We find the expression of analogous feelings in the case of Manoah (Judges 13:22); the Israelites at Sinai (Exodus 20:19); the men of Beth-shemesh (1 Samuel 6:20); David after the death of Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:9); the lady of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:18); [and] Job (Job xlii. 5, 6). 

 

 

5:9                                                       Translations

Weymouth:    (omitted)

WEB:              For he was amazed, and all who were with him, at the catch of fish which they had caught;          

Young’s:         for astonishment seized him, and all those with him, at the draught of the fishes that they took,      
Conte (RC):   For astonishment had enveloped him, and all who were with him, at the catch of fish that they had taken.

 

5:9                   For he was astonished.  He was an experienced fisherman.  What they had was an extraordinarily large catch and at a time in the fishing day when the probability for more than a modest catch (if one were lucky!) was next to non-existent.  Anyone who can make this happen—what other rational response could there be but that of Peter:  “I am not worthy to be in Thy presence”? [rw]

and all that were with him.  The others recognized this reality just as much as Peter did.  Peter at least had had some time with Jesus that might, perhaps, have prepared him for something extraordinary.  But the others did not have even that.  Therefore the shock was surely even more profound for them.  [rw]   

at the draught [catch, NKJV] of the fishes which they had taken.  Making plain that the fact and the size of the catch was what had left them in awe.  [rw]

 

 

5:10                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    and so were Simon's partners James and John, the sons of Zabdi.)

WEB:              and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid. From now on you will be catching people alive."  

Young’s:         and in like manner also James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon; and Jesus said unto Simon, 'Fear not, henceforth thou shalt be catching men;'
Conte (RC):   Now the same was true of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were associates of Simon. And Jesus said to Simon: "Do not be afraid. From now on, you will be catching men."

 

5:10                 And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon.  Our mental image of these apostles is that of teachers/preachers or, perhaps, fishermen.  But the fact that they were in partnership gives us a major and unexpected insight into an ignored area of their life:  They were small businessmen as well.  Hence acquainted with all the perils and turmoils that came with it.  Including the tax collector!  Furthermore, since they were in business with each other, they came into regular contact with those tensions that can arise in such a close relationship and the need to constructively work out their difficulties.  They even had employees:  “And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him  (Mark 1:20).  Is private business to be mocked?  If it were why did Jesus tolerate His core apostles remaining in it?  [rw]     

                        And Jesus said unto Simon, fear not.  A feeling of intense overpowering awe on a sudden came on Simon after listening to the words and seeing this last act of power which so closely affected him.  The very fish of his native lake, then, were subject to this strange holy Man!  This was no mortal, thought the fisherman, and he fell at the master's feet.  "Finding as it does its parallel in almost all manifestations of a Divine or even an angelic presence, it (this awful fear) must be owned to contain a mighty, because an instructive, witness for the sinfulness of man's nature, out of which it comes to pass that any near revelation from the heavenly world fills the children of men, even the holiest among them, with terror and amazement, yea, sometimes with he expectation of death itself"  (Archbishop Trench,  'Introduction to the Epistles to the Seven Churches').  The same "Fear not" ("Be not afraid" was uttered on like occasions to Isaiah (vi. 7), to Daniel (x. 12), and several times during the earthly ministry was said to the disciples, and for the last time the reassuring words were spoken by the Redeemer after the Ascension to his own dear follower, John who could not bear the sight of the glorious majesty of his risen Lord.  [18]

                        from henceforth thou shalt catch men.  Julian the apostate endeavored to turn the simile of fishing against Christianity; inasmuch as fish were caught from their living element for death.  But for the very purpose of avoiding this [insult], or rather from the very intention of a good symbolical meaning, our Lord uses not the [Greek] word which signifies simply "to capture"; but the word which signifies "to take alive," being compounded of the words "alive" and "capture."  [14]

                        Literally, “thou shalt be catching alive.”  In Jeremiah 16:16 the fishers draw out men to death, and in Amos 4:2, Habakkuk 1:14 men are “made as the fishes of the sea” by way of punishment.  Here the word seems to imply the contrast between the fish that lay glittering there in dead heaps, and men who should be captured not for death (James 1:14), but for life.  But Satan too captures men alive (2 Timothy 2:26, the only other passage where the verb occurs).  From this and the parable of the seine or haulingnet (Matthew 13:47) came the favorite early Christian symbol of the “Fish.”  “We little fishes,” says Tertullian, “after our Fish are born in the water (of baptism).”  The prophecy was first fulfilled to Peter, when 3,000 were converted by his words at the first Pentecost.  In a hymn of Clement of Alexandria we find, “O fisher of mortals who are being saved, Enriching pure fish for sweet life from the hostile wave.”  Thus He who “spread the fisher’s net over the palaces of Tyre and Sidon, gave into the fisher’s hand the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”  “He caught orators by fishermen, and made out of fishermen his orators.”  We find a similar metaphor used by Socrates, Xex. Mem. ii.6, “Try to be good and to catch the good.  I will help you, for I know the art of catching men.”  [56]
                        The exchange as a call to apostleship:  It must be remembered that this was the second call of Peter and the three Apostles,--the call of Apostleship; they had already received a call to faith.  They had received their first call on the banks of
Jordan, and had heard the witness of John, and had witnessed the miracle of Cana.  They had only returned to their ordinary avocations until the time came for Christ’s full and active ministry.  [56]

 

 

5:11                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    Then, after bringing their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.

WEB:              When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything, and followed him.

Young’s:         and they, having brought the boats upon the land, having left all, did follow him.
Conte (RC):   And having led their boats to land, leaving behind everything, they followed him.

 

5:11                 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all.  Forsaking consists not in the more or less that is forsaken, but in the spirit in which it is left.  A man may be holden by love to a miserable hovel with as fast bands as to a sumptuous palace, for it is the worldly affection which holds him, and not the world.  [9] 

                        It was not "much" that they left--a couple of small boats and their nets; but it was all they had, even all their living.  But this showed their love of Jesus, and their willingness to deny themselves, as "really" as if they had forsaken palaces and gold. All that Jesus asks is that we should leave "all" we have for him; that we should love Him "more" than we do whatever friends or property we may possess, and be willing to give them all up when He requires it.  [11]

                        Or was their economic status a tad higher than often assumed (as above):  We gather from Mark that Zebedee (Zabdia) and his two sons had hired servants (1:20), and therefore they were probably richer than Simon and Andrew, sons of Jona.  [56]                         

and followed Him.  Not necessarily that they left things in disorder, or without properly arranging the affairs of their families; but that everything now was turned to the one purpose of discipleship to Christ.  [52]

Was it now continuous or only continuous in comparison to what had been before?  These disciples had before received a call which permitted them to remain at their business.  But now, receiving a summons, they "forsook all" worldly employments and relations and gave themselves completely up to Christ.  Not but that they did at intervals, indeed, when not needed in their Master's spiritual service, return to their material labors; but it was still as apostles consecrated to Him and ready at His call.  [14]

                       

 

5:12                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    On another occasion, when He was in one of the towns, there was a man there covered with leprosy, who, seeing Jesus, threw himself at His feet and implored Him, saying, "Sir, if only you are willing, you are able to make me clean."

WEB:              It happened, while he was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man full of leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell on his face, and begged him, saying, "Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean."                 

Young’s:         And it came to pass, in his being in one of the cities, that lo, a man full of leprosy, and having seen Jesus, having fallen on his face, he besought him, saying, 'Sir, if thou mayest will, thou art able to cleanse me;'
Conte (RC):   And it happened that, while he was in a certain city, behold, there was a man full of leprosy who, upon seeing Jesus and falling to his face, petitioned him, saying: "Lord, if you are willing, you are able to cleanse me."

 

5:12                 And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city.  Probably the village of Hattin, for we learn from Matthew’s definite notice that this incident took place on descending from the Mount of Beatitudes, see Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-45.  Hence chronologically the call of Matthew, the choosing of the Twelve, and the Sermon on the Mount probably intervene between this incident and the last.  [56]    

                        behold a man full of leprosy.  The life of a leper was most pitiable.  The rabbis had no cure save to banish him outside the city walls.  He must lead his life absolutely alone; no one was to speak to him; he must pass six feet away, crying out the warning,  "Unclean, unclean:"  If he entered a house, his presence was supposed to defile even the beams of the house.  One rabbi boasted that he always threw stones at the leprous to keep them afar off.  [29] 

                        who seeing Jesus, fell on his face.  Thus indicating his reverence, his sense of personal unworthiness, and his appeal for mercy.  [52]

                        We get the full picture by combining the three Evangelists.  We then see that he came with passionate entreaties, flinging himself on his knees, and worshiping, and finally in his agony prostrating himself on his face.  [56]

                        and besought Him saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst.  Of the Lord’s ability to do even this, he was fully convinced, from what he had seen and heard of His wonderful works.  What he mentions first is the doubt which disquiets him—Will He cure me?  [52] 

                        make me clean.  All three evangelists say "cleanse" instead of "heal," because of the notion of uncleanness which specially attached to this malady.  [2]

                        The faith on this poor leper must have been intense, for hitherto there had been one instance of a leper cleansed by miracle (4:27; 2 Kings 5). [56] 

 

                        In-depth:  What was “leprosy” [18]?  The word has been used with varying extent of meaning.  As far as we can gather, the disease in its worst form seems to have been a progressive decay.  The face and different members of the body were attacked and gradually destroyed, till the sufferer became a hideous spectacle, and literally fell to pieces.  It is much disputed whether or not the malady in any of its varied developments and stages was contagious.  The strict separation which in well-nigh all forms of the disease was rigidly insisted on would seem at all events to point to the conclusion that, in the popular estimation, it certainly was so.

Some phases of the malady, however, appear to have been considered as perfectly free from contagious effect--for instance, Naaman, the captain of the host of Syria, was a leper.  It is not conceivable that one who was infected with so grave a malady, considered incurable, would, if contagious have been permitted to have exercised a function which would have brought him into constant contact with masses of his fellow-countrymen. 

These cases, however, were apparently few in number, and those afflicted with what was usually called leprosy were rigidly separated from their fellows, not only to dwell apart, but positively forbidden to approach the dwellings of men.  In the Egyptian legends of the Exodus, the Israelites were said to have been expelled because they were lepers. 

 

 

5:13                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    Reaching out His hand and touching him, Jesus said, "I am willing; be cleansed!" And instantly the leprosy left him.

WEB:              He stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, "I want to. Be made clean." Immediately the leprosy left him.    

Young’s:         and having stretched forth his hand, he touched him, having said, 'I will; be thou cleansed;' and immediately the leprosy went away from him.
Conte (RC):   And extending his hand, he touched him, saying: "I am willing. Be cleansed." And at once, the leprosy departed from him.

 

5:13                 And he put forth his hand, and touched him.  This was a distinct violation of the letter, but not of course of the spirit of the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 13:46; Numbers 5:2).  In order to prevent the accidental violation of this law, lepers, until the final stage of the disease, were then as now secluded from all living contact with others, “differing in nothing from a dead man” (Josephus, Antiquities iii. 2.3), and only appeared in public with the cry “Unclean!  Unclean!”  But Jesus, “because He is the Lord of the Law, does not obey the Law, but makes the Law” (St. Ambrose); or rather, He obeys that divine eternal Law of Compassion, in its sudden impulse (Mark 1:40), which is older and grander than the written Law.  (So Elijah and Elisha had not scrupled to touch the dead (1 Kings 17:21; 2 Kings 4:34.)  His touching the leper, yet remaining clean, is a type of His taking our humanity upon Him, remaining undefiled.  [56]    

                        saying, I will: be thou clean.  Our Lord’s first miracles were done with a glad spontaneity in answer to faith.  But when men had ceased to believe in Him, then lack of faith rendered His later miracles more sad and more delayed (Mark 6:5; Matthew 13:58).  We never however hear of a moment’s delay in attending to the cry of a leper.  [56]

                        And immediately the leprosy departed from him.  A proof of Christ’s power and kindness.  Could any one doubt, after this, His willingness to relieve every bodily woe.  [52] 

                        Not “Go home and you will be, in due time, healed.”  Instead:  “Be thou clean” and immediately he was.  Thus is the manifold difference between modern healings and the genuine Biblical ones demonstrated.  [rw]

 

 

5:14                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    He ordered him to tell no one. "But go," He said, "show yourself to the Priest, and make the offering for your purification which Moses appointed, as evidence for them."

WEB:              He commanded him to tell no one, "But go your way, and show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing according to what Moses commanded, for a testimony to them."

Young’s:         And he charged him to tell no one, 'But, having gone away, shew thyself to the priest, and bring near for thy cleansing according as Moses directed, for a testimony to them;'
Conte (RC):   And he instructed him that he should tell no one, "But go, show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your cleansing, just as Moses has commanded, as a testimony for them."

 

5:14                 And He charged him to tell no man.   Two reasons that could well have been envolved:  We find this desire of Jesus to check publicity after he had worked one of his great works, especially in the earlier part of his ministry.  Chrysostom attributes this to the Master's regard for the one who had been healed, desiring that his gratitude to God for the mercy vouchsafed to him should not be frittered away in words, in idle talk with curious persons.  It is, however, more likely that the Master wished to stem rather than to fan the tide of popularity which such mighty works would be sure to excite among the people.  What he determined to check was a false and mistaken desire among the people to make him king.  [18]

                        An additional reason that might well be a motivating factor:  Because He came, not merely and not mainly, to be a great Physician and Wonder-worker, but to save men’s souls by His revelation, His example, and His death.  [56]

                        A practical reason to have desired a lack of publicity for this miracle in particular:  Perhaps because our Lord believed that the Pharisees might have compelled Him to stop His work in order to go through the levitical  rites of purification had they known that He had touched the leper.  Matthew (8:1-4) tells us that Jesus was going first, and the crowd was following; the touch might have been so instantaneous that no one knew of it but Jesus and the leper.  The law, besides, had to be fulfilled (Leviticus 14:1-32).  The crowds were already great, and too much excitement might interfere with work, and the leper's disobedience had in fact this result.  [6]

                        Supporting evidence for this deduction:  It is evident however that there was something very special in this case, for Mark says (1:43), “violently enjoining him, immediately he thrust him forth, and said to him, See that you say no more to any one” (according to the right reading and translation).  Clearly, although the multitudes were following Christ (Matthew 8:1).  He was walking before them, and the miracle had been so sudden and instantaneous that they had not observed what had taken place.  Probably our Lord desired to avoid the Levitical rites for uncleanness which the unspiritual ceremonialism of the Pharisees might have tried to force upon Him.  On other occasions, when these reasons did not exist, He even enjoined the publication of an act of mercy, 8:39.  [56]    

                        but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing.  The student should read for himself the intensely interesting and symbolic rites commanded by Moses for the legal pronunciation of a leper clean in Leviticus 14.  They occupy fourteen chapters of Negaim, one of the treatises of the Mishnah.  [56]       

                        according as Moses commanded.  A reference to Leviticus 16:4-10 will show how heavy an expense of the offering entailed. [56] 

"Two birds alive and clean, and cedar-wood, and scarlet, and hyssop . . . and on the eighth day two he-lambs without blemish, and one ewe-lamb of the first year without blemish, and three tenth deals of fine flour for a meat-offering, mingled with oil, and one log of oil" (see Leviticus 14:1-32).  [6]

                        for a testimony unto them.   (1)  To the priests, that they might assure themselves that the miracle was real; (2) to the people who were following Jesus, to show that Jesus came to fulfill the law.  [6]

 

 

5:15                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    But all the more the report about Him spread abroad, and great multitudes crowded to hear Him and to be cured of their diseases;

WEB:              But the report concerning him spread much more, and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities.  

Young’s:         but the more was the report going abroad concerning him, and great multitudes were coming together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities,
Conte (RC):   Yet word of him traveled around all the more. And great crowds came together, so that they might listen and be cured by him from their infirmities.

 

5:15                 But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him.  The more, that is, in proportion to the strictness with which Jesus had enjoined silence.  Luke does not expressly lay the blame on the healed leper, as does Mark, whose whole account is particularly graphic.  The course of the man was doubtless very natural [to himself].  It is one of the many proofs that the faith of those who flocked to Christ might have reference only to His power of physical [benefit to them].  In this case, if the great multitude had come together mainly to hear Christ’s proclamation of the good tidings, many would think the man’s mistake venial.

                        Some have, indeed, strange to say, supposed that the object of the prohibition was that a louder rumor concerning Him might go forth.  There does not seem to have been need of effort, at the time, to attract numbers to be healed of their infirmities [however].  [52]  

                        and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities.  Here we run into a case where it is explicitly said that they came to Jesus for both personal spiritual growth and spiritual healing.  Could Jesus feel anything but pleased that they could arise above mere self-interest (healing—important though it was) to recognize that their spiritual side also stood in need as well?  [rw]

 

 

5:16                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    but Jesus Himself constantly withdrew into the Desert and there prayed.

WEB:              But he withdrew himself into the desert, and prayed.   

Young’s:         and he was withdrawing himself in the desert places and was praying.
Conte (RC):   And he withdrew into the desert and prayed.

    

5:16                 And he withdrew himself into the wilderness.  Our Lord could not, for a time, “enter openly into a city,” but was in retirement in solitary places in the gullied mountains of Galilee, partially similar to those in which John the Baptist abode in Judea (1:80).  [52]

and prayed.  Spent the time in seeking spiritual rest.  It is the second of nine instances in which Luke, alone of the evangelists, presents the Saviour as engaged in prayer (3:21; 6:12; 9:18, 28, 29; 22:32, 41; 23:46).  [I.e., No one of these nine instances is mentioned by another Evangelist. –A.H.]  With these may be mentioned the retirement spoken of in 4:42, which we learn from Mark 1:33, was for prayer.  One who looks at these instances, in their [context], will see that they all pertain to serious and important occasions of Christ’s life and work.  [52]

 

 

5:17                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    One day He was teaching, and there were Pharisees and teachers of the Law sitting there who had come from every village in Galilee and Judaea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present for Him to cure people.

WEB:              It happened on one of those days, that he was teaching; and there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every village of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. The power of the Lord was with him to heal them.       

Young’s:         And it came to pass, on one of the days, that he was teaching, and there were sitting by Pharisees and teachers of the Law, who were come out of every village of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem, and the power of the Lord was -- to heal them.
Conte (RC):   And it happened, on a certain day, that he again sat down, teaching. And there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting nearby, who had come from every town of
Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present, to heal them.

 

5:17                 And it came to pass on a certain day.  The vagueness of the phrase shows that no stress is here laid on a chronological order.  In Matthew 9:2-8; Mark 2:3-12 the scene is in a house in Capernaum, and the time (apparently) after the healing of the Gadarene demoniac on the Eastern side of the Lake, and on the day of Matthew’s feast.  [56]

                        as He was teaching.  This was His work; the miracle, a mere incident.  [7]

                        that there were Pharisees.  As contrasted with the Sadducees, the Pharisees (literally, Separatists or Purists) were essentially the religious party.  They numbered more than 6,000 ("Ant."  xvii. ii. 4), and were pledged to a high standard of life and scrupulous performance of religious duties (Mt. 23:23).  Unfortunately, the high standard was outward rather than inward.  The elaborate casuistry to which the Pharisees had recourse was used as a means of evading moral obligations (Mk. 7:1-13; 12:38-40; Mt. 23:13-33), and resulted in a spirit hard, narrow, and self-righteous.  [41]     

                        and doctors [teachers, NKJV] of the law.  Others with the reputation of having an in-depth understanding of the content and exegesis of the scriptural text.  Note that they are distinguished from the Pharisees, not that they necessarily differed much or any in their beliefs.  The contrast is presumably intended between the devoted “laymen” of the Pharisees and the teaching “elite” of the day.  [rw]       

                        sitting  by.  In the room where He was teaching, to observe what Jesus would say and do.  His fame as a prophet and mighty worker had spread so widely, and risen so high, that the ruling authority in the religious sphere would deem it necessary to have definite information about Him.  Some suppose that the time was near the second Passover in His ministry (John 5:1), and that the populous caravans moving to or from the feast, might furnish the number of Pharisees who now manifest themselves.  [52] 

                        These had probably come out of simple curiosity to hear and see the great Prophet of Nazareth.  They were not the spies malignantly sent at the later and sadder epoch of His ministry (Matthew 15:1; Mark 3:2, 7:1) to dog His footsteps, and lie in wait to catch any word on which they could build an accusation.  [56]

which were come out of every town.  Showing how widely they were distributed.  They had evidently assembly by concert [= agreement].  [52]

of Judaea and Jerusalem.  The Rabbinical writers divided Judaea proper into three parts--mountain, sea-shore, and valley--Jerusalem being regarded as a separate district.  "Only one intimately acquainted with the state of matters at the time, would, with the Rabbis, have distinguished Jerusalem as a district separate from all the rest of Judaea, as Luke markedly does on several occasions (Acts 1:8; 10:39)"  (Edersheim,  "Jewish Social Life").  [2]

 

                        In depth:  Beliefs and divisions of the Pharisees [22].  Attitude toward the O.T.:  Besides the written law they held to an "oral law" which was a digest of Jewish traditions.  Some of it was later written down and was called the Mishna or Second Law, contained now in the first part of the Talmud.  At Christ's time it was esteemed higher than the written law, but was condemned by Him as a source of great error.   

Beliefs:  they believed in a future state, the resurrection of the dead, in a Divine providence acting side by side with the free will of man. 

Divisions:  In the time of Christ they were divided doctrinally into several schools, among which those of Hillel (liberal) and Shamai (conservative) are most noted.                         

Morals:  As a class they represented the best morality; many were ascetics.  Josephus compares them to the Stoics.  Some individuals were good men  (Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, Gamaliel, Hillel, Shamai and St. Paul).  Large numbers later joined the Christian church. 

Why opposed to Christ:  1.  Because of His humble origin and lack of higher education (Matt. 13:55; John 7:15).  2.  Because of the company He kept (Luke 15:2).  3.  Because He opposed their ceremonialism and their wrong idea of the Sabbath. 

Reasons for Christ's opposing them:  Their perversion of the Messianic ideal, national narrowness, religious formalism and self-righteousness. 

 

 

5:18                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    And a party of men came carrying a palsied man on a bed, and they endeavoured to bring him in and lay him before Jesus.

WEB:              Behold, men brought a paralyzed man on a cot, and they sought to bring him in to lay before Jesus. 

Young’s:         And lo, men bearing upon a couch a man, who hath been struck with palsy, and they were seeking to bring him in, and to place before him,
Conte (RC):   And behold, some men were carrying in the bed of a man who was paralyzed. And they sought a way to bring him in, and to place him before him.

 

5:18                 And, behold.  The interjection “behold” indicates the surprise occasioned by the event, that a man as helpless toward moving himself, through the severity of his disease, should be brought by four men (Mark 2:3), and with so much pains [= difficulty] placed before the Saviour.  [52] 

                        men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before Him.  In a different set of circumstances that might have been only a minor problem or none at all but not in the current setting [rw]:  Mark explains that the crowd was so great that they could not even get to the door.  [56]

 

 

5:19                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    But when they could find no way of doing so because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiling--bed and all--into the midst, in front of Jesus.

WEB:              Not finding a way to bring him in because of the multitude, they went up to the housetop, and let him down through the tiles with his cot into the midst before Jesus. 

Young’s:         and not having found by what way they may bring him in because of the multitude, having gone up on the house-top, through the tiles they let him down, with the little couch, into the midst before Jesus,
Conte (RC):   And not finding a way by which they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they climbed up to the roof, and they let him down through the roof tiles with his bed, into their midst, in front of Jesus.

 

5:19                 And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude.  Although there was a large crowd at the door, Luke indicates that there wasn’t any other way to get in as well.  The crowd was so large they apparently saw no practical way to “edge” their way through it either.  [rw]

they went upon the housetop.  A very easy thing to do because there was in most houses an outside staircase to the roof, Matthew 24:17.  Eastern houses are often only one story high, and when they are built on rising ground, the roof is often nearly on a level with the street above.  Our Lord may have been teaching in the “upper room” of the house, which was usually the largest and quietest.  2 Kings 4:10; Acts 1:13, 9:37.  [56]

and let him down through the tiling.  A common explanation:  To understand the scene here described, we must banish from our minds every form of American or European houses.  In those Eastern countries houses were built very low, with flat roofs (Sam. ii. 2; Josh. ii. 6; Jer. xlviii. 38; Zeph. i.5), and with a small square, or courtyard, in the midst of the building.  Access was obtained to the roof by a staircase outside, so that a person might ascend to the roof without entering the house.  In the present case our Lord appears to have been preaching in the court-yard of the house.  Those who carried the paralytic not being able to reach Him because of the crowd, ascended to the roof, removed so much of it as was necessary, and let down their patient through the aperture.  This could be done by holding the corners of the couch, which was but a thickly padded quilt, without any apparatus of ropes or cords.  [9]

                        with his couch into the midst before Jesus.  It didn’t matter whether they were next to Jesus or not.  What counted was that the paralyzed man was. Besides the presence of four individuals could be misinterpreted as them trying to force their way “to the front” (so to speak) while their sole goal was to get the medical attention their paralyzed friend required.  (We say “friend” because for who else would they likely go to so much effort?)  [rw] 

                        couch.  klinidion, “little bed,” probably a mere mat or mattress.  It means the same as Mark’s krabbaton, but that being a semi-Latin word (grabatum) would be more comprehensible to the Roman readers of Mark than to the Greek readers of Luke.  [56]

 

                        In depth:  In what sense was the roof  "dug"  through—An examination of various suggested alternatives [5]:   Many founding their notions of the sacred text upon the houses they see around them, conceive that, Jesus being in an upper room, the men removed the slates or tiles which covered it, together with the laths below, and by this opening let their friend down into the room.  There are several objections to this; but this unanswerable one will suffice,--that in the East roofs are not so constructed.  Still there is a vague impression, that "somehow" a hole was made in the roof, through which the paralytic was passed down into the room in which our Lord was.

                        But the construction of the roofs in those parts, which we know from Josephus to have been the same in our Lord's time as at present, renders this impossible; or if not absolutely impossible, at least the last thing that any one could think of.

                        The roofs are made of successive layers of beams, mats, branches, and leaves of trees, mould, and trodden clay.  Now, to make a hole through this mass, would not only have been a difficult and laborious operation, consuming much time, but would most assuredly have overwhelmed the people sitting in the room below with heaps of rubbish, and choked them with clouds of dust.  There is another kind of roof formed of small brick domes, the intervals between which are filled up with earth, etc., so as to give a level surface to the house-top.  To open one of these would have been an operation of still greater labor and difficulty, and certainly not less dangerous to those below.  Besides, we urge that our Lord was not in a room,--for there He could not be heard by the crowd, which manifestly thronged the court even to the outer doors.

                        Some who feel this objection as to the room, and as to the roof, place our Saviour in the court itself, and suppose that it was covered with an awning to screen it from the sun; and then go on to tell us, that the men being on the roof, lifted up the portion of the awning over the place where our Lord stood, and let the paralytic down to Him.  But this explanation is founded on the usages of a country, such as Barbary, where the galleries are not usually seen to shade the inner sides of the courts of the houses, and where, consequently, an awning is employed for that purpose.  But such awnings are even there used only in the heat of summer; and it can be shown that the time of this transaction was in early spring, not long before the Passover--when no awnings are used, even in those quarters, and in those houses, where it is the custom to spread them out for shade in summer.

                        We return, therefore, to our house, with galleries; and if there were such, it is evident that our Lord would not have stood in the court itself, when He could have addressed the people with so much more advantage to them and to Himself from the gallery above.

                        Being then in the gallery, the course the men had to take was plain and simple.  They had only to take up two or three of the loosely attached boards forming the covering of the gallery, and there was a clear and sufficient opening through which to let their friend down to the feet of our Saviour.  This we believe is what they did; and it seems to us to furnish a sufficient and satisfactory explanation of a transaction which has seemed to many so difficult, and which some have been hardy enough to pronounce incredible. 

 

 

5:20                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    He saw their faith and said to him, "Friend, your sins are forgiven."

WEB:              Seeing their faith, he said to him, "Man, your sins are forgiven you."

Young’s:         and he having seen their faith, said to him, 'Man, thy sins have been forgiven thee.'
Conte (RC):   And when he saw his faith, he said, "Man, your sins are forgiven you."

 

5:20                 And when He saw their faith.  Faith is visible in its works; and, if ever apparent, it was manifest in that scene.  [52]

                        their faith.  [It] must here include that of the sufferer himself.  [52]

                        He said unto him, Man.  St. Mark has “Son,” and St. Matthew “Cheer up, son,” which were probably the exact words used by Christ.  [56]

                        thy sins are forgiven thee.  Rather, “have been forgiven thee,” i.e., now and henceforth.  In this instance our Lord’s power of reading the heart must have shown Him that there was a connection between past sin and present affliction.  The Jews held it as an universal rule that suffering was always the immediate consequence of sin.  The Book of Job had been directed against that hard, crude generalization.  Since that time it had been modified by the view that a man might suffer, not for his own sins, but for those of his parents (John 9:3).  These views were all the more dangerous because they were the distortion of half-truths.  Our Lord, while He always left the individual conscience to read the connection between its own sins and its sorrows (John 5:14), distinctly repudiated the universal inference (Luke 13:5; John 9:3).  [56]  

 

 

5:21                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    Then the Scribes and Pharisees began to cavil, asking, "Who is this, uttering blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?"

WEB:              The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, "Who is this that speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?"          

Young’s:         And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, 'Who is this that doth speak evil words? who is able to forgive sins, except God only?'
Conte (RC):   And the scribes and Pharisees began to think, saying: "Who is this, who is speaking blasphemies? Who is able to forgive sins, except God alone?"

 

5:21                 And the scribes.  The word “scribe,” originally writer, perhaps “copyist of the law,” in the New Testament designates one who, by professional learning, was conversant with the law, and skilled in questions concerning it.  The office dated from the time of “Ezra the scribe.”  They were in sympathy with the Pharisees, and might belong to their body; and were highly esteemed.  It is very probable that the word here is strictly synonymous with “doctor of the law” (verse 17).  [52]

and the Pharisees began to reason, saying,  Who is this which speaketh blasphemies?  Who can forgive sins, but God alone?  It is very probable that some of those who stood by, had already, at Jerusalem, witnessed by the Bethesda Pool a wonder-work done by the same Jesus on the person of an impotent man lying here waiting for the troubling of the water (John 5:5, 9), and had taken part there in an angry [exchange] with the Wonder-worker, who on that occasion, in his words, "made himself equal with God" (John v. 18).  We know (see ver. 17) that some of the Jerusalem scribes were present that day in the Capernaum house.  Again, thought these learned Jews, "this strange Man is uttering his dread blasphemies, but now in even more plain terms than there."  [18]

                        blasphemies?  Since the fact of sins being forgiven is not apparent to the sense, there was room for them to deny it; and their implication is that His words to that effect are merely a false, and therefore a blasphemous, sound.  [52]

                        Who can forgive sins, but God alone?  The remark in itself was not unnatural, Psalms 32:5; Isaiah 43:25; but they captiously overlooked the possibility of a delegated authority.  [56]

 

 

5:22                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    Well aware of their reasonings, Jesus answered their questions by asking in turn, "What is this that you are debating in your hearts?

WEB:              But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, answered them, "Why are you reasoning so in your hearts?          

Young’s:         And Jesus having known their reasonings, answering, said unto them, 'What reason ye in your hearts?
Conte (RC):   But when Jesus realized their thoughts, responding, he said to them: "What are you thinking in your hearts?

 

5:22                 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts.  Which He might do from their actions and looks, without hearing their words, even if words were used.  [52]

                        He answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?  He answered their thoughts, unspoken to Him at least.  What objections do ye make?  [52]

                        Since they think He is sinning, He challenges them to reconsider their thinking in light of a powerful truth that they did not want to admit either, but which thoroughly undermined their argument (verses 23-25).  [rw]

 

 

5:23                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    Which is easier? --to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'?

WEB:              Which is easier to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you;' or to say, 'Arise and walk?'

Young’s:         which is easier -- to say, Thy sins have been forgiven thee? or to say, Arise, and walk?
Conte (RC):   Which is easier to say: 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Rise up and walk?'

 

5:23                 Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?  The argument is from one supernatural power to another:  If I can say “Rise up and walk”—which carries the implicit logical freight of “and it actually happens”—is it any harder for me to promise “Thy sins be forgiven thee”—and it also happen?  [rw]

 

 

5:24                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    But to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" --Turning to the paralytic He said, "I bid you, Rise, take up your bed, and go home."

WEB:              But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" (he said to the paralyzed man), "I tell you, arise, and take up your cot, and go to your house."    

Young’s:         'And that ye may know that the Son of Man hath authority upon the earth to forgive sins -- (he said to the one struck with palsy) -- I say to thee, Arise, and having taken up thy little couch, be going on to thy house.'
Conte (RC):   But so that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins," he said to the paralytic, "I say to you to: Rise up, take up your bed, and go into your house."

 

5:24                 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins.  You deny that I perform a Divine function, the effects of which you cannot see; I will perform one equally Divine as yourselves admit, and the effect of which you cannot fail to see, by instantly restoring to complete health this helpless and hopeless invalid.  [52]

                        This action (1) established His authority over things none of His critics could deal with—would any of them say to the sick “be healed” and they walk away healed?  Of course not.  (2)  Since God had given Him this power to “speak and it be so,” how could that avoid carrying the conceptual freight that when he taught/preached, that equated to, “He spoke and it was binding,” with God’s full authority and power behind it?  They did not even have to accept Jesus’ supernaturalness to get this far, but it was still “a bridge too far”--for it meant all their lengthily developed traditions were subject to the veto of a teacher who came without any “authoritative” rabbinic, Pharisaic, or scribal roots and support.  [rw]       

                        power upon earth.  And therefore, of course, a fortiori, hath power in heaven.  [56]

                        to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy [was paralyzed, NKJV]).  Because he was the one who was sick. 

                        Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.  This action would prove that Jesus had supernatural power that made fully credible His claim to forgive sin as well.

                        thy couch.  The three Evangelists use three different words, which have all been translated by the one English word bed.  Matthew uses the common Greek word; Luke employs a more classical term; Mark says krabbatos (grabatus), and thereby tells us that the bed was merely a pallet or mat--the commonest or poorest kind of bed, a rug which could be spread out in the evening, and rolled up, and put aside during the day.  [6] 

 

                        In depth: the reason for the use of the expression “Son of man” [52].  [This] is the name by which Jesus most commonly designates Himself, and which the disciples never in the Gospels apply to Him.  In what view He felt this appropriate to Him, has been much discussed.  Probably no one statement would cover all His reasons.  It expressed the deep consciousness of full participation in the nature of those whom He came to redeem, and may have been chosen to win their confidence more readily and completely.

                        At the same time, the constant distinction, the Son of man, which no mere mortal would think of assuming could hardly fail to suggest that He who assumed it was something more than man, and might lead some to think that He regarded Himself as the long-expected “seed of woman,” who should bruise the serpent’s head.

                        This is more likely to be a Scriptural source of the idea than the phrase in Daniel 7:13:  “One like a Son of man,” although this passage may have entered into the formation of the title. 

                        An alternative analysis [56]:  Ben-Adam has a general sense of any human being (Job 25:6, etc.); in a special sense in the Old Testament it is nearly 90 times applied to Ezekiel, though never used by himself of himself.  In the New Testament it is 80 times used by Christ, but always by Himself, except in passages which imply His exaltation (Acts 7:56; Revelation 1:13-20).  The Title, as distinctively Messianic, is derived from Daniel 7:13, and is there Bar-Enosh, a word descriptive of man in his humiliation.  The inference seems to be that Christ used it to indicate the truth that “God highly exalted Him” because of His self-humiliation in taking our flesh (Philippians 2:5-11).  [56] 

 

 

5:25                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    Instantly he stood up in their presence, took up the mattress on which he had been lying, and went away to his home, giving glory to God.

WEB:              Immediately he rose up before them, and took up that which he was laying on, and departed to his house, glorifying God.        

Young’s:         And presently having risen before them, having taken up that on which he was lying, he went away to his house, glorifying God,
Conte (RC):   And at once, rising up in their sight, he took up the bed on which he was lying, and he went away to his own house, magnifying God.

 

5:25                 And immediately he rose up before them.  As usual, no delay.  Prompt and complete.  The man who, just minutes before had little or nothing to look forward to in life, now had everything.  [rw]

and took up that whereon he lay.  What he had been carried on was unlikely to have been worth very much, but it would certainly be useful back at home.  In a predominantly poor-ish society one did not waste needlessly what could continue to be used.  [rw]

This circumstance is emphasized in all three narratives to contrast his previous helplessness, “borne of four,” with his present activity.  He now carried the bed which had carried him, and “the proof of his sickness became the proof of his cure.”  The labour would have been no more than that of carrying a rug or a cloak, yet it was this which excited the fury of the Pharisees in Jerusalem (John 5:9).  It was not specially attacked by the simpler and less Pharisaic Pharisees of Galilee.  [56] 

and departed to his own house.  His friends who had carried him would already know of the healing and those who it was most important to inform next would be those of his own family.  Perhaps they returned with him to celebrate or perhaps they would remain for a while to see what happened next.  Even then, one would expect that his home would be the place they would all soon gather.  If for nothing else, to join in the joy and to reassure themselves that he was still just as well as he seemed to be.  Here we are speaking not so much doubt as the search for reassurance.  [rw]

glorifying God.  He fully recognized that Divine power had healed Him and rightly gave prompt praise to God for it.  Of the several major faults that characterized late twentieth century America, high on the list was that of so taking “good things” happening and coming our way for granted, that we forgot to be thankful—not to mention thanking God for the blessings as well.  [rw]  

 

 

5:26                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    Amazement seized them all. "Glory to God!" was the abiding feeling. Yet fear flashed through their minds and they said, "We have seen strange things to-day."

WEB:              Amazement took hold on all, and they glorified God. They were filled with fear, saying, "We have seen strange things today."

Young’s:         and astonishment took all, and they were glorifying God, and were filled with fear, saying -- 'We saw strange things to-day.'
Conte (RC):  And astonishment took hold of everyone, and they were magnifying God. And they were filled with fear, saying: "For we have seen miracles today."

 

5:26                 And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear.  Whatever they might disagree on socially, economically, or even religiously Jesus had astounded one and all.  [rw]

all.  The scribes as well as the others, for in the intensity of feeling there was a recognition of divinity.  [6]

                        saying, We have seen strange things to day.  Whatever they had been expecting that day, it certainly hadn’t worked out how they had anticipated!  Even those who expected miracles were impressed beyond anything they expected.  For one thing Jesus had claimed not only the power to heal (which He had proved by doing it) but also the power to forgive sins.  If He could do that—and His miracle of the bed-ridden powerfully argued that He could—then His teaching had a Divine power behind it that not even the most conceited Pharisee or Rabbi or priest could dare claim.  What must their attitude be when those two sides clash; must their loyalties lie with the traditionalists as they normally would have?  [rw]   

 

 

5:27                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    After this He went out and noticed a tax-gatherer, Levi by name, sitting at the Toll office; and He said to him, "Follow me."

WEB:              After these things he went out, and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax office, and said to him, "Follow me!"

Young’s:         And after these things he went forth, and beheld a tax-gatherer, by name Levi, sitting at the tax-office, and said to him, 'Be following me;'
Conte (RC):   And after these things, he went out, and he saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the customs office. And he said to him, "Follow me."

 

5:27                 and after these things He went forth.  Not necessarily on the same day.  [52]

and saw a publican.  Capernaum, as has been already noticed, had become owing to its situation, a commercial centre of no small importance.  It was on the great highway from the interior of Asia, and from Damascus to the seaboard Mediterranean cities, to Jerusalem, and to Egypt.  The custom-house of Capernaum and the office of inland revenue there would naturally be under the control of officials of some importance.  The local trade on the lake, too, we know at that period was very large.  [18]

Matthew may have been a tax-gatherer for Herod Antipas—who seems to have been allowed to manage his own taxes—and not for the Romans; but even in that case he would share almost equally with a man like Zacchaeus the odium with which his class was regarded.  For the Herods were mere creatures of the Caesars (Josephus, Antiquities, xvii. 2.6).  [56]

                        named Levi.  The identity of Matthew and Levi seems to follow  (a) from the perfect agreement in the narrative of the calling of Matthew (Matt.9:10) and of Levi (Mk. 2:15; Luke 5:29),  (b)  the absence from the lists of the Apostles of any trace of Levi while Matthew occurs in all.  (c)  It is not improbable that he changed his name Levi after his call, into Matthew in grateful remembrance of God's mercy.  [22]

                        sitting.  Dr. Thomson says, "The people of this country sit at all kinds of work.  The carpenter saws, planes and hews with his hand-adze, sitting upon the ground or upon the plank that he is planing.  The washerwoman sits by the tub; and, in a word, no one stands where it is possible to sit.  Shop-keepers always sit, and Levi sitting at the receipt of custom, is the exact way to state the case.  [9]                                       

                        at the receipt of custom [at the tax office, NKJV].  It had a known and publicized location to assure that no one had an excuse to avoid paying what is due.  This was followed up, assuredly, by representatives regularly checking to see if anyone had been “forgetful” of their legal obligations.  [rw]    

                        and he said unto him, Follow me.  If the invitation to a tax collector is startling, even more so is the tax collector’s willingness to accept it.  Both would have been startling to onlookers.  [rw]         

                              

                        In depth:  Why did Jesus chose a despised tax collector to be an apostle [18]?  What specially induced our Lord to select as one of His inner circle a man whose life-work was so hateful and unpopular to the Jewish people generally?  why did He include in the twelve one who, from the nature of his detested office, had lost religious caste among the Jews, and who was compelled to consort with sinners, Gentiles, and persons who were considered, wither from their birth or life and associations, outside the pale of the chosen people? 

Various replies to this question have been suggested, such as--by this open act He threw down the gauntlet to all that powerful Pharisee class who were beginning to suspect and to mistake His teaching and liberalism.  Or was His apparently strange choice dictated by a simple desire to have, in the inner circle of his devoted friends, a business man--one who could manage the growing society?  but this seems to have been done by Judas; or was it simply done in obedience to a sudden impulse from on High?  None of these seems satisfactory. 

Surely another motive, and that a deeper and a nobler one, suggested this enrolment of the despised publican in that glorious company of apostles.  The Lord was determined to show, by this choice of His, that in His eyes all callings were equally honorable, all ways of life might lead to the city of the blessed.  Never would the work enable the man, but only the way in which the work was done.  The Baptist, as we have seen, first taught this Divine liberalism.  The Baptist's Lord placed his seal of approval upon his servant's teaching by such acts as the calling of Matthew the publican, and feasting in His house with publicans and sinners. 

 

 

5:28                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    He rose, left everything, and followed Him.

WEB:              He left everything, and rose up and followed him. 

Young’s:         and he, having left all, having arisen, did follow him.
Conte (RC):   And leaving behind everything, rising up, he followed him.

 

5:28                 And he left all, rose up, and followed Him.  We are not to understand that he departed without settling up and arranging his affairs, so that his employers might receive detriment from his change of pursuit, and yet it is plain that unhesitatingly, without the reply of a word, or the least unnecessary delay, he left all in which he had just before been immersed, and obeyed the summons which was to change the whole tenor of his life.  [9]

                        No doubt a hard and difficult bit of self-renunciation.  He, at the bidding of the homeless, landless Teacher, gave up his lucrative employment, sacrificing all his life of promotion, of future wealth and position, exposing himself, doubtless, to sneers and calumny.  With great truth could he re-echo his friend Peter's words, "Lo, we have left all, and followed thee."  [18]

 

                        In depth:  Was Matthew / Levi a relative of Jesus?  [56].  It is most probable that Matthew, like the sons of Jona and of Zebedee, had known something of our Lord before this call.  If Alphaeus (Matthew 10:3; Mark 2:14) be the same as the father of James and the Less, and the same as Clopas (John 19:25) the husband of Mary, and if this Mary was the sister of the Virgin, then James and Matthew were cousins of Jesus.  The inferences are uncertain, but early Christian tradition points in this direction.  It was a rare but not unknown custom to call two sisters by the same names.  [56]  

 

 

5:29                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    Levi also gave a great entertainment at his house in honour of Jesus, and there was a large party of tax-gatherers and others at table with them.

WEB:              Levi made a great feast for him in his house. There was a great crowd of tax collectors and others who were reclining with them.  

Young’s:         And Levi made a great entertainment to him in his house, and there was a great multitude of tax-gatherers and others who were with them reclining (at meat),
Conte (RC):   And Levi made a great feast for him in his own house. And there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others, who were sitting at table with them.

 

5:29                 And Levi  made Him a great feast.  It was probably some days after his call to be a disciple.  His former friends were invited, publicans as they were, and hated by their proud fellow-sinners.  Jesus, who came to seek and to save that which was lost, accepted the courtesy and partook of the feast.

                        To this the Pharisees object not to Him but to His disciples.  "You are eating with men unclean and defiled.  You will be made unclean and be excluded from the temple and congregation."  The disciples are alarmed.  But Jesus silences them, and encouraged all those who looked to Him for guidance.  Jesus lent His countenance to the innocent social customs of the Jews.  He was at a marriage, where wine was drank, and at more than one feast, not as loving mere animal or social pleasures, but as using them for good.  Christians may ponder whether it will not be better for them to indulge their children and dependents in innocent social pleasures, and by their presence regulate and restrain them within due bounds, rather than by a futile attempt to deprive them entirely, expose them to the temptation of deceit in the first instance, and excess in the secret indulgences of youthful animal spirits.  [4]

                        Great feast.  The words used, "a great feast," a great company, plainly indicate that Levi (Matthew) was a person of consideration and position.  [18]

                        Or:  It is called a great banquet, with reference not to the multitude of the guests, but to the abundance and magnificence of the provisions.  [19]

                        Furthermore:  This shows that Matthew had something to sacrifice when he “left all.”  The word rendered “feast” literally means “reception.”  [56]

                        in his own house.  The fact that a feast for a large number of guests could be held within the confines of his home, argues that it must have been a large one and is yet another indication of his substantial wealth.  [rw]

                        and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them.  The great company was owing to the fact that the publicans and their friends, moved by the kindness and friendship of the new Teacher, assembled at the feast in numbers out of respect to him; or, more likely, the assemblage was owing to the effort of Levi (Matthew) to bring into friendly relations his associates and friends and the new Master, for whose sake he had given up everything.  [18]

                        Curiosity must have been great:  a Jewish teacher being this willing to publicly associate with one of the most despised occupations in the land?  The one thing they could know for certain was that this teacher was going to be profoundly different from any they were acquainted with.  [rw] 

                       

 

5:30                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    This led the Pharisees and Scribes of their party to expostulate with His disciples and ask, "Why are you eating and drinking with these tax-gatherers and notorious sinners?"

WEB:              Their scribes and the Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?"       

Young’s:         and the scribes and the Pharisees among them were murmuring at his disciples, saying, 'Wherefore with tax-gatherers and sinners do ye eat and drink?'
Conte (RC):   But the Pharisees and scribes were murmuring, saying to his disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?"

                       

5:30                 But their scribes and Pharisees.  We are not to suppose that the scribes and Pharisees were among the company at table, for they would then, undoubtedly, according to their own opinion, have defiled themselves.  We are rather to believe that the feast was so far of a public character, that access to the house was forbidden to no one, and that the desire of Christ's enemies to observe the Savior was stronger than their disinclination to enter into the house of a publican.  [9]

                        Some manuscripts read “the Pharisees and their scribes,” i.e., those who were the authorized teachers of the company present.  The scribes (Sopherim from Sepher “a book”) were a body which had sprung up after the exile, whose function it was to copy and explain the Law.  The “words of the scribes” were the nucleus of the body of tradition known as “the oral law.”  The word was a general term, for technically the Sopherim were succeeded by the Tanaim or “repeaters” from B.C. 300 to A.D. 220, who drew of the Halachoth or “precedents;” and they by the Amoraim.  [56]

                        murmured against His disciples.  With whom they felt more free than with the Master; but it was He of whom they complained (Mark 2:16).  [52] 

saying, Why do Ye.  They use the plural, but aim alone at the Master.  [7]

                        ye eat and drink with publicans [tax collectors, NKJV] and sinners.   [Tax collectors often] had acquired their wealth by fraud, for which the employment of publican afforded a great facility; the other [label applied to] such as in other ways led a sinful life.  [33]

 

 

5:31                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    But Jesus replied to them, "It is not men in good health who require a physician, but the sick.

WEB:              Jesus answered them, "Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but those who are sick do.        

Young’s:         And Jesus answering said unto them, 'They who are well have no need of a physician, but they that are ill:
Conte (RC):   And responding, Jesus said to them: "It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who have maladies.

 

5:31                 Introduction:  When did Jesus first hear of the protests [56]?  They had not yet learnt to break the spell of awe which surrounded the Master, and so they attacked the “unlearned and ignorant” Apostles.  The murmurs must have reached the ears of Jesus after the feast, unless we imagine that some of these dignified teachers, who of course could not sit down at the meal, came and looked on out of curiosity.  The house of an Oriental [c. 1900] is perfectly open, and any one who likes may enter it.  

 

                        And Jesus answering said unto them.  Speaking in place of the disciples whom they had addressed.  [52]

                        They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.  This self-evident proposition contains the substance of His reply in a form so impersonal as neither to excite nor allow debate.  If Jesus is a Soul Physician, they cannot deny that His place is with the morally diseased.  He claims that was His office.  [52]

                        Our Lord’s words had both an obvious and a deeper meaning.  As regards the ordinary duties and respectability of life these provincial scribes and Pharisees were really “whole” as compared with the flagrant “sinfulness” of the tax-gatherers and “sinners.”  In another and even a more dangerous sense they were themselves “sinners” who fancied only that they had no need of Jesus (Revelation 3:17, 18).  They did not yet feel their own sickness, and the day had not yet come when they were to be told of it both in parables (18:11-13) and in terms of terrible plainness (Matthew 23).  [56]

 

 

5:32                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    I have not come to call the righteous to repentance, but sinners."

WEB:              I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." 

Young’s:         I came not to call righteous men, but sinners, to reformation.'
Conte (RC):   I have not come to call the just, but sinners to repentance."

 

5:32                 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.  This was true in two senses.  Our Lord came to seek and save the lost.  He came not to the elder son but to the prodigal; not to the folded flock but to the straying sheep.  In a lower and external sense these Pharisees were really, as they called themselves, “the righteous” (Chasidim).  In another sense they were only self-righteous and self-deceived (18:9).  Matthew tells us that He further rebuked their haughty and pitiless exclusiveness by borrowing one of their own formulae, and bidding them “go and learn” the meaning of Hosea 6:6, “I will have mercy and not sacrifice,” i.e., love is better than legal scrupulosity; Matthew 9:13, 12:7.  The invariable tendency of an easy and pride-stimulating externalism when it is made a substitute for heart-religion is the most callous hypocrisy.  The Pharisees were condemned not by Christ only but their own Pharisaic Talmud, and after 70 the very name fell into such discredit among the Jews themselves as a synonym for greed and hypocrisy that it became a reproach and was dropped as a title.  [56] 

 

 

5:33                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    Again they said to Him, "John's disciples fast often and pray, as do also those of the pharisees; but yours eat and drink."

WEB:              They said to him, "Why do John's disciples often fast and pray, likewise also the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink?"          

Young’s:         And they said unto him, 'Wherefore do the disciples of John fast often, and make supplications -- in like manner also those of the Pharisees -- but thine do eat and drink?'
Conte (RC):   But they said to him, "Why do the disciples of John fast frequently, and make supplications, and those of the Pharisees act similarly, while yours eat and drink?"

 

5:33                 And they said unto Him.   Isaac Williams says:  "It appears in St. Luke that the Pharisees themselves thus speak; from St. Matthew, the disciples of John; from St. Mark, both of them, or others on their behalf, make the complaint.  We must therefore suppose that the Pharisees now endeavour to instill their ill-will into John's disciples; and that they, together with their own disciples, come forward in consequence with the remark.  The disciples of John come to him with the complaint, and the Pharisees who had instilled it into their minds, join with them in urging the same."  [30]

                        We learn from the parallel passage in St. Mark that "they" who asked the Lord this question were the disciples of John the Baptist and the Pharisees, who united on this occasion.  These disciples of John do not seem at first to have regarded Jesus with altogether friendly feelings.  Such a jealousy was only too natural, and the rigid, unbending truthfulness of the evangelists compelled them to tell the story of the way the early foundations of the truth were laid without concealment of error or mistake.  The Baptist himself practiced the sternest asceticism, and required doubtless of his nearest followers that they should imitate his example.  The Lord's way of life, his presence at feastings and merry-makings, his consorting with publicans, his choice of one of them as his disciple and friend, no doubt surprised and disturbed not a few of the followers of John; hence such a question as the one we are now considering, and such a querulous complaining.  [18]

                        Why do the disciples of John fast often.  Since Jesus’ respect and admiration for John was a matter of public record, it would have been natural to wonder why He did not imitate the example John’s disciples set.  (The unspoken assumption is clearly that they were acting with the encouragement or under the direct instructions of John when they often fasted.)  [rw]

and make prayers.  The prayers do not refer to the common and usual prayers of devout men, but to those which accompanied a life of austere devotion, such as John and His disciples practice, of whom many may have been from among the Essenes, whose previous asceticisms would lead them to regard with surprise the departure of Jesus and His disciples from the stern habits of self-denial practiced by their Master.  [9]

                        Of course, the disciples prayed, but perhaps they did not use so “much speaking” and connect their prayers with fastings.  The preservation of these words by Luke alone, in spite of the emphasis which he lays on prayer, shows his perfect fidelity.  [56]

                        and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees.  [These] were those who were in study and training for membership in their sect, and, perhaps, included those who went with them mainly, in principle and practice, without bearing their name.  [52]

                        but thine eat and drink.  The two major groups demanding obedience to the moral and religious duties of the Torah were following a policy diametrically opposite of Jesus.  Whether friend or foe, it was natural to want an explanation for such things as happened this day since they would further entrench Jesus’ reputation as Teacher—He would accept the repentant of any and all types--and, in turn, draw more disciples to Him.  [rw] 

                                   

 

5:34                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    "Can you compel the bridal party to fast," replied Jesus, "so long as they have the bridegroom among them?

WEB:              He said to them, "Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast, while the bridegroom is with them?

Young’s:         And he said unto them, 'Are ye able to make the sons of the bride-chamber -- in the bridegroom being with them -- to fast?
Conte (RC):   And he said to them: "How can you cause the sons of the groom to fast, while the groom is still with them?

 

5:34                 And He said unto them, Can ye make the children [friends, NKJV] of the bridechamber [bridegroom, NKJV] fast, while the bridegroom is with them?  The intimate friends of the bridegroom—his “groomsmen” who, after escorting the bride to her new home, remained in attendance throughout the feast, which might, in more eminent families, last seven days.  The whole time was a season of joy and hilarity.  To practice fasting under such circumstances, the Savior says, is impossible.  It would be a monstrous impropriety.  Fasting is not consistent with a joyous state of mind.  [52]

                        fast.  Matthew (9:15) uses the word “mourn” which makes the antithesis more striking (John 16:20).  [56]

 

 

5:35                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    But a time for this will come, when the Bridegroom has been taken away from them: then, at that time, they will fast."

WEB:              But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them. Then they will fast in those days."

Young’s:         but days will come, and, when the bridegroom may be taken away from them, then they shall fast in those days.'
Conte (RC):   But the days will come when the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast, in those days."

 

5:35                 But the days will come.  It’s not today or tomorrow or the near future.  But it is still inevitable. [rw]

                        when the bridegroom.  Jesus Himself.  [rw]

                        shall be taken away from them.  The word rendered "shall be taken away from (them)," only occurs here in the New Testament; it points evidently to a death of violence.  The intimation given to Nicodemus (John 3:14) was the first private announcement of the last scene of the earth-life.  [18]                          

and then shall they fast in those days.  As we are told that they did, Acts 13:2-3.  Observe that [it] is not said, “then shall ye be able to insist on their fasting.”  The Christian fasts would be voluntary, not compulsory; the result of a felt need, not the observance of a rigid command.  [56]

 

                        In depth:  Fasting in the Biblical tradition [56].  Our Lord never entered fully into the subject of fasting, and it is clear that throughout the Bible it is never enjoined as a frequent duty, though it is sanctioned and encouraged as an occasional means of grace.  In the Law only one day in the year—the Kippur, or Day of Atonement—was appointed as a fast (Leviticus 16:29; Numbers 29:7).  After the exile four annual fasts had arisen, but the prophets do not enjoin them (Zechariah 7:1-12, 8:19), nor did our Lord in any way approve (or apparently practice) the two weekly fasts of the Pharisees (18:12).   

                        Probably the reason why fasting has never been commanded as a universal and constant duty is that it acts very differently on different temperaments, and according to the testimony of some who have tried it most seriously, acts in some cases as a powerful stimulus to temptation.  It is remarkable that the words “and fasting” are probably the interpolations of an ascetic bias in Matthew 17:21; Mark 9:29; Acts 10:30; 1 Corinthians 7:5, though fasting is implied in Matthew 5:16.  Fasting is not commanded and is not forbidden.  The Christian is free (Romans 14:5), but must, while temperate in all things, do exactly that which he finds most conducive to his spiritual and moral welfare. 

 

 

5:36                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    He also spoke in figurative language to them. "No one," He said, "tears a piece from a new garment to mend an old one. Otherwise he would not only spoil the new, but the patch from the new would not match the old.

WEB:              He also told a parable to them. "No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old garment, or else he will tear the new, and also the piece from the new will not match the old. 

Young’s:         And he spake also a simile unto them -- 'No one a patch of new clothing doth put on old clothing, and if otherwise, the new also doth make a rent, and with the old the patch doth not agree, that is from the new.
Conte (RC):   Then he also made a comparison for them: "For no one sews a patch from a new garment onto an old garment. Otherwise, he both disrupts the new one, and the patch from the new one does not join together with the old one.

 

5:36                 And He spake also a parable unto them.  To illustrate, as would appear, the radical incompatibility between the prevailing system of prescriptive, compulsory, external service to God, and the free heart-worship which He had come to introduce.  [52]

                        No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old.  The language represents a man as tearing a piece out of a new cloak to patch an old one.  In doing this he has torn and mutilated the new and fails to match the old.  The “piece” in the first clause becomes equivalent to “a patch” in the last.  [52]

                        if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old.  The inferior readings adopted by the E.V. make us lose sight of the fact that there is a treble mischief implied, namely, (1) the rending of the new to patch the old; (2) the incongruity of the mixture; (3) the increase of the rent of the old.  The latter is mentioned only by Matthew, but is implied by the bursten skins of the next similitude.  Our Lord is referring to the proposal to enforce the ascetic leanings of the forerunner, and the Pharisaic regulations which had become a parasitic growth on the old dispensation, upon the simplicity of the new dispensation.  To act thus was much the same thing as using the Gospel by way of a mere adjunct to—a mere purple patch upon—the old garment of the Law.  The teaching of Christ was a new and seamless robe which would only be spoilt by being rent.  It was impossible to tear a few doctrines and precepts from Christianity, and use them as ornaments and improvements of Mosaism.  If this were attempted (1) the Gospel would be maimed by the rending from its entirety; (2) the contrast between the new and the old system would be made more glaring; (3) the decay of the evanescent institutions would only be violently accelerated.  Notice how distinctly these comparisons imply the ultimate abrogation of the Law. [56]

                        However great a conceptual overlap there is between the two testaments, they are still two distinct legal systems.  To interject gospel liberties into the Old Testament system would not “improve” that system, it would cripple it from functioning as it was intended.  Likewise the bringing of needless OT restrictions into the New Testament cripples the NT from being what it was intended as well.  [rw]

 

                        In depth:  The nature of Jesus' parables [41].  The Greek word  is used in the NT in a wider sense than that in which we are in the habit of using it.  In Lk. 4:23 it = 'proverb.' 

In Mt. 15:15 (comp. with vv. 11, 16-20) it = 'maxim,' a condensed moral truth, whether couched in figurative language or not. 

It covers as well brief aphoristic sayings (e.g. Mk. 3:23; 13:28; Luke 5:36; 6:39) as longer discourses in which there is a real 'comparison.'  But these latter are the 'parables' in our modern acceptation of the term:  they are scenes or short stories taken from nature or from common life, which present in a picturesque and vivid way some leading thought or principle which is capable of being transferred to the higher spiritual life of man. 

The 'parable' in a somewhat similar sense to this had been employed in OT and by the Rabbis, but it had never before been employed with so high a purpose, on so large a scale, or with such varied application and unfailing perfection of form.

                        We may say that the parables of Jesus are of two kinds.  In some the element of 'comparison' is more prominent.  In these the parable moves as it were in two planes--one that of the scene or story which is made the vehicle for the lesson, and the other that of the higher truth which it is sought to convey; the essence of the parable lies in the parallelism.  In the other kind there is no parallelism, but the scene or the story is just a typical example of the broader principle which it is intended to illustrate.  The parables in Mt. 13, Mk. 4 all belong to the one class, several of those in the later chapters of St. Luke (the Good Samaritan, the Rich Fool, the Rich Man and Lazarus, the Pharisee and the Publican) belong rather to the other.

                        There is a group of sayings in the Fourth Gospel to which is given [a different Greek] name (Jn. 10:6, cf. 16:25, 29), though the latter term would not have been inappropriate, in which Jesus used the method of comparison to bring out leading features in His own character and person.  In this way He speaks of Himself as the Good Shepherd, the Door of the sheep, the Vine, the Light of the World.  These sayings form a class by themselves, and from the peculiar way in which they are worked out--the metaphor and the object explained by the metaphor being not kept apart but blended and fused together—are commonly classed under the head of  'allegory'  rather than  'parable.'  This is another instance in which we draw distinctions where the Greek of the NT would not have drawn them. 

 

 

5:37                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    Nor does any one pour new wine into old wine-skins. Otherwise the new wine would burst the skins, the wine itself would be spilt, and the skins be destroyed.

WEB:              No one puts new wine into old wineskins, or else the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed.     

Young’s:         'And no one doth put new wine into old skins, and if otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and itself will be poured out, and the skins will be destroyed;
Conte (RC):   And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine ruptures the wineskins, and it will be poured out, and the wineskins will be lost.

 

5:37                 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles.  Jesus presents a simple “fact of life” that every one present knew.  The principle had a spiritual application and they should heed that just as much as they would its “this world” counterpart.  [rw]  

else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish.  They could contain the motionless, not expand with the fermenting.  [56]

                        "The manufacture of these goatskin bottles is very simple.  The animal is skinned from the neck by cutting off the head and legs, and then drawing the skin back without making any slit in the belly.  The skins in this state, with the hair on, are then steeped in tannin, and filled with a decoction of bark for a few weeks. . . . They are then sewn up at the neck and the seams pitched" (Tristram).  [6]

 

 

5:38                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.

WEB:              But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved. 

Young’s:         but new wine into new skins is to be put, and both are preserved together;
Conte (RC):  Instead, the new wine is put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.

 

5:38                 But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved.  Never would Jesus entrust to these narrow and prejudiced representatives of a worn-out religious school his new, fresh, generous doctrines.  It would indeed be pouring new wine into old, decayed, worn-out wine-vessels.  The new wine must be deposited in new wine-skins.  His doctrine must be entrusted to no rabbi of Israel, fettered by a thousand precedents, hampered by countless prejudices, but to simple unprejudiced men, who would just receive his teaching, and then pass it on pure and unadulterated to other simple, truthful souls.  [18]

 

                        In depth:  Is actual wine being put in the wineskins or is it unfermented juice that may be caused to ferment into wine due to contamination of the old container [6]?  The parable has usually been explained to mean that new bottles stretch, [while] old ones are hard and dry [and] cannot give when the wine ferments and expands.  So the expansive joy and the then partially-developed freedom of Christianity could not be safely confined in the old unyielding forms of Judaism, but must have new and more elastic ones of their own. 

Canon Farrar, however, says that this mode of explanation is physically untenable.  The bottles are of course skins, and the wine of the juice of the grape which has not yet been fermented, or "must."  He maintains, however, that when "must" begins to ferment, it cannot be kept in any bottle new or old, for the force of fermentation and the expansion caused thereby are sufficient to burst the most flexible wine-skin. 

                        He thinks that our Lord is not thinking at all of fermented intoxicating wine, but of the "must" which can be kept for years, and is so kept in all wine countries, and which can be kept with perfect safety in new leathern bottles.  It is unsafe to put it in old bottles which have contained "wine" in the ordinary sense, because in such a case "minute portions of the albuminoid matter would be left adhering to the skin, and receive yeast germs from the air, and keep them in readiness to set up fermentation in the new unfermented contents of the skin." 

If by any such chance fermentation were accidentally produced, no bottle new or old could stand the pressure.  Hence ancient writers on the art of wine-making are careful to say that the unfermented "must" is put into a new vessel. 

To attempt to combine Judaism and Christianity would raise such fermentation as would destroy both.  Our Lord forewarns His disciples against those Hebraizing Christians against whom Paul had to fight his lifelong battle, and who are here innocently anticipated by those disciples of John the Baptist.   

 

 

5:39                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    Nor does any one after drinking old wine wish for new; for he says, 'The old is better.'"

WEB:              No man having drunk old wine immediately desires new, for he says, 'The old is better.'"        

Young’s:         and no one having drunk old wine, doth immediately wish new, for he saith, The old is better.'
Conte (RC):  And no one who is drinking the old, soon wishes for the new. For he says, 'The old is better.' "

 

5:39                 No man also having drunk old wine straightway [immediately, NKJV] desireth new.  The same person may sometimes drink both “old” and new wine, but he certainly won’t want to go immediately from the well aged old wine to the newly produced form.  Human taste simply does not work that way.  [rw] 

                        for he saith:  The old is better.  Wine increases its strength and flavor, and its mildness and mellowness, by age, and the old is therefore preferable.  They who had tasted such mild and mellow wine would not readily drink the comparatively sour and astringent juice of the grape as it came from the press.  The meaning of this proverb in this place seems to be this:  You Pharisees wish to draw my disciples to the "austere" and "rigid" duties of the ceremonial law--to fasting and painful rites; but they have come under a milder system.  To insist now on their observing them would be like telling a man who had tasted of good, ripe, and mild wine to partake of that which is sour and unpalatable.  [11]

 

 

 


Books Utilized

(with number code)

 

 

1          =          Adam Clarke.  The New Testament . . . with a Commentary and

Critical Notes.  Volume I:   Matthew to the Acts.   Reprint, Nashville,

Tennessee:  Abingdon Press.

 

2          =          Marvin R. Vincent.  Word Studies in the New Testament.  Volume I:

The Synoptic  Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, Epistles of Peter, James,

and Jude.  New York:  Charles Scribner's Sons, 1887; 1911 printing.

 

3          =          J. S. Lamar.  Luke.  [Eugene S. Smith, Publisher; reprint, 1977 (?)]

 

4          =          Charles H. Hall.  Notes, Practical and Expository on the Gospels;

volume two:  Luke-John.  New York:  Hurd and Houghton, 1856,

1871.

 

5          =          John Kitto.  Daily Bible Illustrations.  Volume II:  Evening Series: 

The Life and Death of Our Lord.  New York:  Robert Carter and

Brothers, 1881.

 

6          =          Thomas M. Lindsay.  The Gospel According to St. Luke.  Two

volumes.  New York:  Scribner & Welford, 1887.

           

7          =          W. H. van Doren.  A Suggestive Commentary on the New Testament: 

Saint Luke.  Two volumes.  New York:  D. Appleton and Company,

1868. 

 

8          =          Melancthon W. Jacobus.  Notes on the Gospels, Critical and

Explanatory:  Luke and John.  New York:  Robert Carter &

Brothers, 1856; 1872 reprint.

 

9          =          Alfred Nevin.  Popular Expositor of the Gospels and Acts:  Luke. 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:  Ziegler & McCurdy, 1872.

 

10        =          Alfred Nevin.  The Parables of Jesus.  Philadelphia:  Presbyterian

Board of Publication, 1881.

 

11        =          Albert Barnes.  "Luke."  In Barnes' Notes on the New Testament.

Reprint, Kregel Publications, 1980.

 

12        =          Alexander B. Bruce.  The Synoptic Gospels.  In The Expositor's

Greek Testament, edited by W. Robertson Nicoll.  Reprint, Grand

Rapids, Michigan:  Wm. B.   Eerdmans Publishing Company.

 

13        =          F. Godet.  A Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke.  Translated

from the Second French Edition by E. W. Shalders and M. D. Cusin.

New York:  I. K. Funk & Company, 1881.

 

14        =          D. D. Whedon.  Commentary on the Gospels:  Luke-John.   New

York:  Carlton & Lanahan, 1866; 1870 reprint.   

 

15        =          Henry Alford.  The Greek Testament.  Volume I:  The Four Gospels.

Fifth Edition.  London:  Rivingtons, 1863.  

 

16        =          David Brown.   "Luke" in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and

David Brown,  A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the

Old and New Testaments.  Volume II:  New Testament.  Hartford:

S. S. Scranton Company, no date.

 

17        =          Dr. [no first name provided] MacEvilly.  An Exposition of the Gospel

of St. Luke.  New York:  Benziger Brothers, 1886.

 

18        =          H. D. M. Spence.  “Luke.”  In the Pulpit Commentary, edited by H. D.

M. Spence.  Reprinted by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company,

1950.

 

19        =          John Calvin.  Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists,

Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  Translated by William Pringle.  Reprint,

Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Wm. B.    Eerdmans Publishing Company.

 

20        =          Thomas Scott.  The Holy Bible . . . with Explanatory Notes (and)

Practical Observations.  Boston:  Crocker and Brewster.

 

21        =          Henry T. Sell.  Bible Studies in the Life of Christ:  Historical and

Constructive.  New York:  Fleming H. Revell Company, 1902.

 

22        =          Philip Vollmer.  The Modern Student's Life of Christ.  New York:

Fleming H. Revell Company, 1912.

 

23        =          Heinrich A. W. Meyer.  Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the

Gospels of Mark and Luke.  Translated from the Fifth German

Edition by Robert Ernest Wallis.  N. Y.:  Funk and Wagnalls,

1884; 1893 printing. 

 

24        =          John Albert Bengel. Gnomon of the New Testament.  A New

                        Translation by Charlton T. Lewis and Marvin R. Vincent. 

Volume One.  Philadelphia:  Perkinpine & Higgins, 1860.

 

25        =          John Cummings.  Sabbath Evening Readers on the New Testa-

ment:  St. Luke.  London:  Arthur Hall, Virtue & Co,1854.

 

26        =          Walter F. Adeney, editor.  The Century Bible:  A Modern  

Commentary--Luke.  New York:  H. Frowdey, 1901.  Title page

missing from copy.

 

27        =          Pasquier Quesnel.  The Gospels with Reflections on Each Verse.

Volumes I and II.  (Luke is in part of both).  New York:  Anson

D. F. Randolph, 1855; 1867 reprint. 

 

28        =          Charles R. Erdman.  The Gospel of Luke:  An Exposition.

Philadelphia:  Westminster   Press, 1921; 1936 reprint.

 

29        =          Elvira J. Slack.  Jesus:  The Man of Galilee.  New York:  National

Board of the Young Womens Christian Associations, 1911.

 

30        =          Arthur Ritchie.  Spiritual Studies in St. Luke's Gospel.  Milwaukee:

The Young Churchman Company, 1906.

 

31        =          Bernhard Weiss.  A Commentary on the New Testament.  Volume

Two:  Luke-The Acts.  New York:  Funk & Wagnalls Company,1906.

 

32        =          Matthew Henry.  Commentary on the Whole Bible.  Volume V:

Matthew to John.  17--.  Reprint, New York:  Fleming H. Revell

Company, no date.

 

33        =          C. G. Barth.  The Bible Manual:  An Expository and Practical

Commentary on the Books of Scripture.  Second Edition.

London:  James Nisbet and Company, 1865.

 

34        =          Nathaniel S. Folsom.  The Four Gospels:  Translated . . . and with

Critical and Expository Notes.  Third Edition.  Boston:  Cupples,

Upham, and Company, 1871; 1885 reprint.

 

35        =          Henry Burton.  The Gospel according to Luke.  In the Expositor's

Bible series.  New York:  A. C. Armstrong and Son, 1895. 

 

36        =          [Anonymous].  Choice Notes on the Gospel of S. Luke, Drawn from

Old and New Sources.  London:  Macmillan & Company, 1869.

 

37        =          Marcus Dods.  The Parables of Our Lord.  New York:  Fleming H.

Revell Company, 18--. 

 

38        =          Alfred Edersheim.  The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah.  

Second Edition.  New York:  Anson D. F. Randolph and Company,

1884.

 

39        =          A. T. Robertson.  Luke the Historian in the Light of Research. 

New York:  Charles Scribner's Sons, 1920; 1930 reprint. 

 

40        =          James R. Gray.  Christian Workers' Commentary on the Old and

New Testaments.  Chicago:  Bible Institute Colportage Associat-

ion/Fleming H. Revell Company, 1915.

 

41        =          W. Sanday.  Outlines of the Life of Christ.  New York:  Charles

Scribner's Sons, 1905.

 

42        =          Halford E. Luccock.  Studies in the Parables of Jesus.  New York:

Methodist Book Concern, 1917.

 

43        =          George H. Hubbard.  The Teaching of Jesus in Parables.  New

York:  Pilgrim Press, 1907. 

 

44        =          Charles S. Robinson.  Studies in Luke's Gospel.  Second Series.

New York:American Tract Society, 1890.  

 

45        =          John Laidlaw.  The Miracles of Our Lord.  New York:  Funk &

Wagnalls Company,   1892.

 

46        =          William M. Taylor.  The Miracles of Our Saviour.  Fifth Edition.

New York:  A. C. Armstrong & Son, 1890; 1903 reprint.

 

47        =          Alexander Maclaren.  Expositions of Holy Scripture:  St. Luke.

New York:  George H. Doran Company, [no date].

 

48        =          George MacDonald.  The Miracles of Our Lord.  New York:

George Routledge & Sons, 1878. 

 

49        =          Joseph Parker.  The People's Bibles:  Discourses upon Holy Scrip-

                        tureMark-Luke.    New York:  Funk & Wagnalls Company, 18--.

 

50        =          Daniel Whitby and Moses Lowman.  A Critical Commentary and

Paraphrase on the New Testament:  The Four Gospels and the Acts

of the Apostles.  Philadelphia:  Carey & Hart, 1846.

 

51        =          Matthew Poole.  Annotations on the Holy Bible.  1600s.

Computerized.

 

52        =          George R. Bliss.  Luke.  In An American Commentary on the New

Testament.  Philadelphia:  American Baptist Publication Society,

1884.

                       

53        =          J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton.  The Fourfold Gospel. 

1914.  Computerized.

 

54        =          John Trapp.  Commentary on the Old and New Testaments.  1654.

                        Computerized.

                       

55        =          Ernest D. Burton and Shailer Matthews.  The Life of Christ.

Chicago, Illinois:  University of Chicago Press, 1900; 5th reprint,

1904.

 

56        =          Frederic W. Farrar.  The Gospel According to St. Luke.  In “The

Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges” series.  Cambridge:  At

the University Press, 1882.