From: Over 50 Interpreters Explain the Gospel of Mark Return to Home
By Roland H. Worth, Jr. © 2013
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Weymouth: After some days He entered Capernaum again, and it soon became known that He was at home;
WEB: When he
entered again into
Young’s: And again he entered into Capernaum, after some days, and it was heard that he is in the house,
Conte (RC): And after
some days, he again entered into
2:1 And again He entered. In the gospels, the events are not always in a strict chronological sequence. In this case, the writer stresses that it is, but that unrecorded events had occurred in between for he speaks of how “days” had passed. [rw]
There is no inconsistency between this statement and the one just previously made, that after the healing of the leper He "could no more openly enter into the city" (1:45); for the present statement is that "He entered into Capernaum after some days;" and even then He enters in privately, as appears from the remark, "it was noised abroad that He was in the house." 
after some days. Neither here nor in Luke is there any help in
measuring the length of the time spent in the circuit through
and it was noised [heard, NKJV]. This suggests a private entrance into the city, and then a general report that He was there. 
that He was in
the house. This was
probably the house of Peter and Andrew again (as at ) [and] was [likely] His only home within
The houses of the poorer
WEB: Immediately many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even around the door; and he spoke the word to them.
Young’s: and immediately many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door, and he was speaking to them the word.
Conte (RC): And it was heard that he was in the house. And so many gathered that there was no room left, not even at the door. And he spoke the word to them.
2:2 And straightway [immediately, NKJV] many were gathered together. As Jesus had been for some time absent from Capernaum, it is probable that some of the inhabitants began to conclude that He would not return: and those who were sick, or had sick friends and relations, might fear that they had finally missed the opportunity of obtaining cures, so that the rumour of His return excited great attention, and such numbers assembled to hear His discourses, or witness His miracles, that the house and the court or space before the door, could not contain the whole company. 
insomuch that there was no room to receive them. The idiom today would be that “every square inch was filled up.” [rw]
no, not so much as about [near, NKJV] the door. Whether this was at the door opening from the street to the court[yard], or that from the court to the room occupied, can only be matter of conjecture. 
and He preached the word unto them. The qualifying phrase commonly added, "of God," is here implied. Christ's gospel being God's great revelation to man, is emphatically the word. 
He insisted that the listening be done before the healing. The message had the priority, not the cures. [rw]
WEB: Four people came, carrying a paralytic to him.
Young’s: And they come unto him, bringing a paralytic, borne by four,
Conte (RC): And they came to him, bringing a paralytic, who was being carried by four men.
2:3 And they come unto Him. Since the crowd was blocking them (), they must have been late arrivals. This makes full sense since individuals had to be recruited to carry him. [rw]
bringing one sick of the palsy [paralytic, NKJV]. Depending on how much of his body was paralyzed, his days might literally be numbered. Even if he “only” couldn’t walk, he faced a miserable existence. [rw]
Which was borne of four [carried by four men, NKJV]. He was therefore full grown, though not old. Each held a corner of the litter. 
Mark alone mentions the number of men. 
WEB: When they could not come near to him for the crowd, they removed the roof where he was. When they had broken it up, they let down the mat that the paralytic was lying on.
Young’s: and not being able to come near to him because of the multitude, they uncovered the roof where he was, and, having broken it up, they let down the couch on which the paralytic was lying,
Conte (RC): And when they were not able to present him to him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where he was. And opening it, they lowered down the stretcher on which the paralytic was lying.
2:4 And when they could not come nigh unto [near, NKJV] Him for the press [because of the crowd, NKJV]. A flight of stairs led from the ground to the roof of the house, and they bore the sick man up over the head of Jesus. 
they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up. Took a part of the roof away. 
Many expositors explain the act of "uncovering the roof" as the removing of an awning from over the court, or a part of the battlement, so as to let the man down in the court; but the word here employed, "broken up" (R.V.), is literally, "digging out;" and Luke says more specifically that they let him down "through the tilling." 
they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. Surely an unnerving experience for the paralyzed man! Yet since there appeared no way to reach the Healer except this way, it is no wonder there is no hint of protest. The actions of the four helpers demonstrated their faith in Jesus and the acquiescence of the immobile man demonstrated his own as well. [rw]
In depth: Where was Jesus standing teaching and in what sense did the sick man's helpers dig through the roof ? In the lack of any description of the house, we cannot picture the act to ourselves as clearly as we would. Some think that Jesus was in the "upper room" of the house, and some think that He was on the ground-floor; while some thing He may have been in the open yard, just beside the wall, and that what was removed was the railing around the roof.
But Thompson's theory of the matter is very simple, and seems to be sufficient The Land and the Book, 2. 6-8). He thinks that the house was one of those that are abundantly illustrated by the ruins in that region, as well as by existing houses--a low, one-story house with a flat roof; not a large house built around a court, but a square house with the entrance through a recess or entry under the roof and open to the yard. Whether Jesus stood, as Thompson thinks probable, in this entry between the yard and the interior of the house, or in some room within, the process would be the same.
The roofs of such houses vary in construction, but can all be broken up without difficulty. Thompson describes a roof of the heavier kind, containing a layer of stiff mortar; and he says the only difficulty in opening such a roof would be the inconvenience arising from a shower of dust. But he speaks of other roofs, made of boards or stone slabs, which might be still more easily taken up. Perhaps Luke's phrase--"through the tiling;" literally, "through the tiles"--may be a reminiscence of the actual construction of the roof, and may remove the difficulty by suggesting that nothing but necessary but to lift the tiles with which the building was covered.
WEB: Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven you."
Young’s: and Jesus having seen their faith, saith to the paralytic, 'Child, thy sins have been forgiven thee.'
Conte (RC): Then, when Jesus had seen their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven you."
2:5 When Jesus saw their faith. That is, the faith of the bearers. 
Or: Theirs as well as his. Theirs in pushing through such difficulties,--his in consenting. 
If the sick man too had not had faith, he would not have let himself be brought at all and would certainly not have consented to reach Christ's presence by so strange and, to him, dangerous a way--being painfully hoisted up some narrow stair, and then perilously let down, at the risk of cords snapping or hands letting go or bed giving way. 
He said unto the sick of the palsy. Jesus could not prove that He could forgive sin; by the nature of this “disease” its removal can’t be documented. However, He could claim the power and by fully healing the man He promised forgiveness to make His claim credible. In other words He used His visible power to heal, to establish faith in His “invisible” power to forgive. [rw]
Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. This somewhat unexpected saying presupposes in the mind of the sick man and his friends the common popular belief in the close connection between sickness and sin; cf. John 5:11, 9:2. 
Or: Probably Jesus saw that the man himself was more burdened with his sin than with his sickness, and more anxious to be at peace with God than to be cured of the [physical affliction]. For it does not seem to have been Jesus' habit to bestow a spiritual blessing on one who had no desire for it or faith to receive it. See, for example, Luke 17:11-19. 
This one saying proves that Jesus possessed divine powers and divine prerogatives or else it proves that He was a charlatan to whose claims the world ought never to have paid any attention. This is one of the cases in which the choice lies between admitting the presence and action of divine attributes and making His words blasphemy toward God and insult to man. 
WEB: But there were some of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
Young’s: And there were certain of the scribes there sitting, and reasoning in their hearts,
Conte (RC): But some of the scribes were sitting in that place and thinking in their hearts:
2:6 But there were certain of the scribes. Their tempers would not be improved by the tearing up of the roof, nor sweetened by seeing the "popularity" of this doubtful young Teacher, who showed that He had the secret which they had not, of winning men's hearts. Nobody came crowding to them nor hung on their lips. Professional jealousy has often a great deal to do in helping zeal for "truth" to snuff out heresy. 
sitting there. From Luke's account and from the term "sitting," we infer that they came early; it is probable that they were in the upper room where our Lord was, nearer to Him and in the most conspicuous position. 
in their hearts. These
men may have come up to
The complaint does not seem to have been addressed to Jesus, yet it appears not to have been entirely unspoken. It was passed around among themselves, in their own circles, perhaps in whispers, and was certainly expressed in their dark faces. 
If they had been sure of their ground, they should have boldly charged Him with blasphemy; but perhaps they were half suspicious that He could show good cause for His speech. Perhaps they were afraid to oppose the tide of enthusiasm for Him. 
WEB: "Why does this man speak blasphemies like that? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"
Young’s: 'Why doth this one thus speak evil words? who is able to forgive sins except one -- God?'
Conte (RC): "Why is this man speaking in this way? He is blaspheming. Who can forgive sins, but God alone?"
2:7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? He was doing more than any man had any authority to do as a man. The astonishment of the scribes, who regarded His words as blasphemous, was justified if Jesus claimed to be nothing more than man. 
Who can forgive sins but God only? Their principle is impregnable. Forgiveness is a divine prerogative, to be shared by none, to be grasped by none, without in the act diminishing God's glory. But whether He "blasphemeth" or not depends on what the scribes do not stay to ask: namely, whether He has the right so to claim; and if He has it, it is they, not He, who are the blasphemers. We need not wonder that they recoiled from the right conclusion, which is--the divinity of Jesus. But we have to thank them for clearly discerning and bluntly stating what was involved in our Lord's claims and for thus bringing up the sharp issue: blasphemer or “God manifest in the flesh!” 
Weymouth: At once perceiving by His spirit that they were reasoning within themselves, Jesus asked them, "Why do you thus argue in your minds?
WEB: Immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, said to them, "Why do you reason these things in your hearts?
Young’s: And immediately Jesus, having known in his spirit that they thus reason in themselves, said to them, 'Why these things reason ye in your hearts?
Conte (RC): At once, Jesus, realizing in his spirit that they were thinking this within themselves, said to them: "Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?
2:8 And immediately. Mark would have us see something supernatural in the swiftness of Christ's knowledge of the muttered criticisms. He perceived it "straightway” and “in His spirit,” which is tantamount to saying by divine discernment and not by the medium of sense, as we do. 
when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they so reasoned within themselves. He knew their thoughts not by communication from another, as the prophets of old had things made known to them by revelation, but by His own Spirit prevailing and penetrating all things. From this the Christian Fathers, against the Arians, infer the divinity of Christ, that He inspected the heart which it is the prerogative of God alone to do. St. Chrysostom says, “Behold the evidenced of the divinity of Christ. Observe that He knows the very secrets of your heart.” 
He said unto them. The absence from the Lord's answer of any explanation that He was only declaring the divine forgiveness and not Himself exercising a divine prerogative shuts us up to the conclusion that He desired to be understood as exercising it. 
Why reason ye these things in your hearts? We ought not to find fault with the use of human reason in matters of Divine revelation, but rather with the abuse of it. 
WEB: Which is easier, to tell the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven;' or to say, 'Arise, and take up your bed, and walk?'
Young’s: which is easier, to say to the paralytic, The sins have been forgiven to thee? or to say, Rise, and take up thy couch, and walk?
Conte (RC): Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Rise up, take up your stretcher, and walk?'
2:9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? To the scribes who question whether Jesus really has authority to forgive sins, of which there can, of course, be no visible test, Jesus replies that He will show His power in a thing which they can test, since they can see whether the paralytic walks or not. He implies that if He thus proves His words good in the one case, it is reasonable for them to believe they are good in the other case. It is thus that we constantly reason about people. Finding them good and true where we can test them, we believe them so where we have no opportunity to apply a test. 
To say, “Thy sins be forgiven” and to say, “Take up they bed,” are equally easy. To effect either is equally beyond man's power; but the one can be verified and the other cannot and, no doubt, some of the scribes were maliciously saying: "It is all very well to pretend to do what cannot be tested.
Let Him come out into daylight and do a miracle which we can see." He is quite willing to accept the challenge to test His power in the invisible realm of conscience by His power in the visible region. 
WEB: But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"--he said to the paralytic--
Young’s: 'And, that ye may know that the Son of Man hath authority on the earth to forgive sins -- (he saith to the paralytic) --
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:
But that ye may know. You want evidence, I’ll give you evidence. The unspoken words: But are you as astute as you think you are and willing to accept the conclusion the evidence should drive you to? [rw]
that the Son of
The title is never applied by the writers of the Gospels themselves to the Eternal Son of God. There are only three exceptions to this rule [of it being used only by Jesus]: (1) where the title is used by Stephen (Acts ), and (2) by John (Revelation ; ). 
This is the first use of that title in Mark. It implies His Messianic office and points back to Daniel's great prophecy; but it also asserts His true manhood and His unique relation to humanity, as being Himself its sum and perfection. 
hath power on earth. He laid aside somewhat His divine glory when He came to earth, but He did not relinquish His divine power. That He had on earth that prerogative which properly belonged to Heaven, He would establish by incontestable evidence. 
to forgive sins. In a manner beyond the most devout priest in the temple. They go offer the required sacrifices for forgiveness, but not even the High Priest could lay them aside and pronounce, on His own authority, “I forgive your sins.” [rw]
He saith to the sick of the palsy. With a profound “theological argument” going on around Him, it would have been easy for the paralyzed man to feel like he had no business being in the middle of this discussion. But the truth was that he was what the discussion was all about: his healing had not been overlooked or forgotten; his welfare would be assured. So the words are directed at the one who needed to hear them to be relieved of his affliction and not at those who would only sneer. [rw]
WEB: "I tell you, arise, take up your mat, and go to your house."
Young’s: I say to thee, Rise, and take up thy couch, and go away to thy house;'
Conte (RC): "I say to you: Rise up, take up your stretcher, and go into your house."
I say unto thee. Hence what is going to be done for you is going to be because of Me. They may be the “religious experts” but you are about to learn a healing truth they spurn. [rw]
arise and take up thy bed. This would make the proof of the completeness of the cure that more manifest. 
bed. A simple pallet, scarcely more than a heavy blanket or thin mattress, easily carried by one person. 
and go thy way into thine house. Like others who were cured, he also was forbidden to loiter, and commanded to return promptly to duty. 
The last thing he needed to do was to stay around and be sucked into controversies with religious authority figures who would regard him as an embarrassing nuisance and not as the proof they claimed they sought. [rw]
Weymouth: The man rose, and immediately under the eyes of all took up his mat and went out, so that they were all filled with astonishment, gave the glory to God, and said, "We never saw anything like this."
WEB: The man rose, and immediately under the eyes of all took up his mat and went out, so that they were all filled with astonishment, gave the glory to God, and said, "We never saw anything like this."
Young’s: He arose, and immediately took up the mat, and went out in front of them all; so that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!"
Conte (RC): And immediately he got up, and lifting up his stretcher, he went away in the sight of them all, so that they all wondered. And they honored God, by saying, "We have never seen anything like this."
And immediately. No delay. No elaborate ritual. It was simply said and it was done. [rw]
he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all. He not only had the paralysis removed, he had the strength to carry his bed—a not inconsiderable evidence itself: how many prolonged bedridden could do so? [rw]
insomuch that (so that, NKJV) they were all amazed and glorified God. Apparently it was as at Acts 4:14, where the presence of the living proof silenced the cavils. Later in our Lord's ministry, when the opposition was more developed, that would not have kept them back; and even now, undoubtedly, there was smouldering indignation, at least in many of those who were spiritually prepared to see no good in Him. 
saying, we never saw it on this fashion [anything like this, NKJV]. They may have seen some odd and unexpected things in their day, but this was unprecedented, unlike anything they had ever observed. [rw]
Weymouth: Again He went out to the shore of the Lake, and the whole multitude kept coming to Him, and He taught them.
WEB: He went out again by the seaside. All the multitude came to him, and he taught them.
Young’s: And he went forth again by the sea, and all the multitude was coming unto him, and he was teaching them,
Conte (RC): And he departed again to the sea. And the entire crowd came to him, and he taught them.
And He went forth again. The Saviour was not content with an occasional great effort, as we are apt to be. 
by the sea side. The sea of Galilee. 
In front of the town or near it. 
For the greater convenience of the hearers. The house had become too crowded. 
and all the multitude resorted unto him. The entire crowd who had gathered at the home for the healing. Jesus had done the impossible; who better could they learn from? [rw]
and he taught them. How were they to learn right unless they were instructed? The miracles weren’t ends in themselves, but to prepare their hearts to be receptive for teaching moments like this. [rw]
Weymouth: And as He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the Toll Office, and said to him, "Follow me." So he rose and followed Him.
WEB: As he passed by, he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, "Follow me." And he arose and followed him.
passing by, he saw Levi of
Conte (RC): And as he was passing by, he saw Levi of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs office. And he said to him, "Follow me." And rising up, he followed him.
And as He passed by, he saw. Probably a special trip for the purpose of recruitment either consciously intended to be made that particular day or on the first that their paths crossed. Such an effort had to be after the miracles. Any tax collector had to be a cynic—can you imagine how many tales he had been told in the exercise of his duties? After the reports of the healings circulated, even an honest cynic would have to recognize that what Jesus asked was worth doing. [rw]
the son of Alphaeus. Levi
is the Hebrew name of Matthew, the latter being a Greek surname, adopted
probably when he became a tax collector. (Compare Matthew 9:9). Whether his father
sitting at the receipt of custom [tax office, NKJV]. At one of the entrances to
Or: Probably a sort of petty custom-house for the
collection of taxes on goods shipped across the
and said unto him, Follow Me. It is not affirmed, or even necessarily implied, that this was his first knowledge of the Saviour. The analogy of the calls before described (Mark -20) makes it not improbable that this man, like his predecessors, had already heard Him, and perhaps received an intimation that his services would be required. 
And he arose and followed Him. We should remember that this tax-gatherer was probably no stranger to Jesus. Like all the inhabitants of Capernaum he had heard the Master preach, had witness His miracles, and had listened to the promises of a coming Kingdom and of the blessedness of His followers. Now came the definite invitation; the response was immediate and open. 
Weymouth: When He was sitting at table in Levi's house, a large number of tax-gatherers and notorious sinners were at table with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many such who habitually followed Him.
WEB: It happened, that he was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners sat down with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many, and they followed him.
Young’s: And it came to pass, in his reclining (at meat) in his house, that many tax-gatherers and sinners were reclining (at meat) with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many, and they followed him.
Conte (RC): And it happened that, as he sat at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners sat at table together with Jesus and his disciples. For those who followed him were many.
And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat [dining, NKJV] in his house. It is Luke who says that "Levi made him a great feast in his" (Levi's) "house," perhaps, though not necessarily, on the same day. 
"Sat at meat" is phraseology accommodated to our usage, the literal meaning being “reclined." The custom of reclining at meals upon beds or couches had been introduced among the Greeks and Romans from the east and had been adopted by the Jews. The men, for the custom did not extend to the women and children, leaned upon the left arm, leaving the right free to use at the table, which was placed in from of them. 
many. It is only asserted that the publicans and sinners jointly were numerous, yet the natural impression is that each class was numerous. If it be thought improbable that there were many tax collectors in any one town, these considerations will relieve the difficulty: Tiberias, the capital of the tetrachy, was nearby, there were a number of important towns within a short compass about this sea, and the region of Galilee around was then fertile and prosperous. Matthew may have summoned many of his former associates from a distance; but this very probable supposition is not necessary to account for the presence of many publicans in one place; for we are here informed that they followed Jesus (verse 15). They had been attracted to the ministry of one who treated them so differently from the sanctimonious religious leaders of the day. 
publicans [tax collectors, NKJV]. The publicans or tax gatherers under the Roman government were of two classes: (1) Persons who farmed the Roman taxes, and in later times were usually Roman knights and men of wealth and position. (2) Subordinate collectors, each of whom was required to pay a certain sum to his superior, with the privilege of raising as much more as he could for his own profit. These inferior collectors were natives of the province where the taxes were collected, and were properly called portitores or exactores. So notorious were they for rapacity and dishonesty that Suetionius (Vit. Vesp. I) tells us how several cities erected statues to Sabinus, "the honest publican;" and Theocritus, in answer to the question, which were the worst kind of wild beasts, said, "On the mountains, bears and lions; in cities, publicans and pettifoggers." 
The Roman government, as the Athenian had done
before, farmed the revenues of its provinces; that is, the revenue of each
province was sold at
This system of farming the revenue presented strong temptations to make illegal exactions, to which the tax-collectors were too ready to yield. John the Baptist warned the publicans that same to hear him against this besetting sin (Luke -13).
A tax of one per cent, on all property and also on all goods sold, which was the rate at this time during the reign of Tiberius, a capitation tax, an import and an export duty usually of five per cent, tithes from the lands claimed by the government, rents for the public pastures, and many special taxes, made the burden on the people heavy enough without the false or exorbitant entries (Luke 19:8) of these revenue harpies.
The publicans were therefore usually of a low class, without self-respect and indifferent to the religious sentiment of their nation. The national contempt for them as a class showed itself in the oft-repeated phrase, “publicans and sinners." Levi may have been superior to the men of his class. He may have taken the position from necessity and not through avarice, and may have been honest in his official acts. Yea, he may, in a spirit of self-sacrifice, have accepted the position to shield his fellow-citizens from the exactions of some unscrupulous competitor. But if he had the low morals of the most of his official associates, then grace did the more for him in elevating his character and fitting him for the apostolic office and the work of writing the first gospel. 
and sinners. "Sinners" no doubt means those who were regarded with disfavour by the orthodox Pharisiac Jews because their lives were not in strict accord with the Law, or because they practiced a trade which was looked upon with suspicion. 
They probably consisted of Gentiles, and such Jews besides the publicans as by their association with Gentiles cut themselves off from social and religious connection with the strict observers of the law, and because identified with their heathen associates. The phrase, "a heathen man and a publican" (Matthew ), employed to characterize an excommunicated person, conveys the same idea, and is based upon this popular usage. 
Or: These “sinners” were not Gentiles, as some
learned men interpret the word to mean, but Jews of disgraceful character. Our Lord's ministry was almost exclusively
among “the lost sheep of the house of
sat also together with Jesus and his disciples. Whatever their personal failures, they weren’t “segregated apart” as unworthy of acquaintance. They weren’t worthy of attention because they were “publicans and sinners” but because they were individuals in need of moral reform. [rw]
for their were many. The “many” is repeated a second time, probably because the disciples regarded it with amazement that Jesus might gain even the temporary interest of such individuals. Quite possibly the “publicans and sinners” felt the same way, since this would clearly not have been their usual social company and religious affairs far from their personal center of interest. [rw]
and they followed Him. From the positive standpoint, they refused to be slaves to the faults of their past. They couldn’t change what they had done; they could only change what they did from then on. That was quite enough to satisfy Jesus. The great unknown is how many persisted in their spiritual interest. Jesus, however, was far more interested in commitment than in numbers. However many He retained, He would be thankful for having them. [rw]
WEB: The scribes and the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, "Why is it that he eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?"
Young’s: And the scribes and the Pharisees, having seen him eating with the tax-gatherers and sinners, said to his disciples, 'Why -- that with the tax-gatherers and sinners he doth eat and drink?'
Conte (RC): And the scribes and the Pharisees, seeing that he ate with tax collectors and sinners, said to his disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?"
And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eat with publicans and sinners. Scribes would not enter the house of Levi, and we can imagine their scorn as they stood outside and saw the Rabbi within at the same table with publicans and sinners. 
they said. The conference must have been after the feast, not within Levi's house, and may have been on another day. 
unto His disciples. The rabbis tried to use this event as a means of stirring up dissension among Jesus' followers. 
How is it that He eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? In their view, to eat and drink with publicans and sinners was a violation of their most sacred traditions: How could Jesus break these divine restrictions, they reasons, and yet lay claim to be one sent by God? 
WEB: When Jesus heard it, he said to them, "Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
Young’s: And Jesus, having heard, saith to them, 'They who are strong have no need of a physician, but they who are ill; I came not to call righteous men, but sinners to reformation.'
Conte (RC): Jesus, having heard this, said to them: "The healthy have no need of a doctor, but those who have maladies do. For I came not to call the just, but sinners."
When Jesus heard it, He sayeth unto them. It would not be surprising if even the disciples were yet quite sure how the question should be answered. Jesus, therefore, provided the rationale for seeking converts both from friendly sources and from social groups that might ordinarily be hostile. [rw]
they that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick. Jesus' answer is, in substance, As surely as a good physician will seek to bring his skill to those who need it most, so surely must the man who seeks the moral health of men invest his life where the need is greatest. 
As the physician is not infected by the disease of the patient but rather overcomes it and drives it from him, so it is no disgrace but rather an honour to he physician to associate himself with the sick and so much the more, the greater he sickness. 
I came not to call the righteous. The religionists of that day recognized God's love for righteousness (as many men do) far enough to feel that God must love the righteous; but they did not recognize His love for righteousness as a love that would seek to produce righteousness where it is not. 
but sinners. Instead of being despised, they must be treated like men and accepted as companions. He who would save them must not shrink from them, and must make them know what love He had for them; hence Jesus set at naught all ceremonial objections to associating with men defiled, and all social objections to being found in company with the despised. 
He went not as a companion to share in their mere conviviality, but as an instructor, a physician; and if we go with the same motive and with the same design, we are warranted in doing so. 
to repentance. Association with degraded and vicious characters is sincere duty, according to the purpose of it. To go down in the filth in order to wallow there is vile; to go down in order to lift others up is Christ's mission and Christ-like. 
WEB: John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, and they came and asked him, "Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples don't fast?"
Young’s: And the disciples of John and those of the Pharisees were fasting, and they come and say to him, 'Wherefore do the disciples of John and those of the Pharisees fast, and thy disciples do not fast?'
Conte (RC): And the disciples of John, and the Pharisees, were fasting. And they arrived and said to him, "Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?"
And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees. It is remarkable to find the disciples of John here associated with the Pharisees. It is possible that jealousy of the increasing influence of Christ may have led John's disciples to associate themselves with the Pharisees. 
Such an unworthy zeal is too often seen in good men who prefer their own leaders to all others. 
used to fast [were fasting, NKJV]. We have no reason to believe, and it is highly improbable, indeed, that John himself established fasts, which would seem to be at variance with his intermediate position as the last prophet of the old dispensation and the herald of the new. 
and say unto Him. This time Jesus Himself is addressed and it is the disciples with whom fault is found. To speak of His supposed faults to them and of theirs to Him was cunning and cowardly. 
Or: They suggest that if Christ went among sinners to do them good, as He has pleaded, yet the disciples went to indulge their appetites, for they never knew what it was to fast or to deny themselves. Note [that] ill-will always suspects the worst. 
Why do the disciples of John. i.e., it isn’t just one group that does it. Among the “most religious” it is widespread. [rw]
and of the Pharisees. Probably those men who did not belong as members to the society of the Pharisees, but who believed in their religious ideas. 
fast. The only stated fast prescribed in the Mosaic law is that of the great day of atonement, in which were summed up all the expiatory ceremonies of the year (Leviticus -34). But before the close of the Old Testament canon, we find traces of additional fasts added by the Jews themselves (Zechariah [7:1-5;] ) and in the time of Christ an intimation by Himself that the Pharisees observed two weekly fasts (Luke ). 
Twice a week they fasted. On Thursday because, according to tradition, Moses reascended Mount Sinai on that day after the people's trespass of the golden calf; and on Monday because on that day he returned with the tables of the Law (Exodus 34:4, 29). 
but thy disciples fast not. Just because something is a common religious custom does not necessarily mean that God ever demanded it or expected it. Nor does its popularity mean that it is binding on us as well. [rw]
WEB: Jesus said to them, "Can the groomsmen fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they can't fast.
Young’s: And Jesus said to them, 'Are the sons of the bride-chamber able, while the bridegroom is with them, to fast? so long time as they have the bridegroom with them they are not able to fast;
Conte (RC): And Jesus said to them: "How can the sons of the wedding fast while the groom is still with them? During whatever time they have the groom with them, they are not able to fast.
And Jesus said unto them. They wanted an answer from Him, so He gave it. But people never seem to learn that just because you demand an answer, doesn’t necessarily mean you will like it. [rw]
Can the children of the bridechamber [bridegroom, NKJV] fast while the bridegroom is with them? See John 3:29, where the Baptist called Jesus the bridegroom and spoke of himself as the "friend of the bridegroom," whose office it was to arrange the marriage-feast and bring the bridegroom and the bride together. 
As long as they have the bridegroom with them. A wedding is a time of joy; fasting expresses sorrow. The two things are incongruous. Having the joy of His presence, they could not rightly profess to be sad. 
they cannot fast. The principle which underlies the answer is a very important one. It is this: that all outward forms of religion, appointed by man, ought only to be observed when they correspond to the feeling and disposition of the worshipper. That principle cuts all religious formalism by the very roots. Our Lord did not object to fasting; He did object to the formal use of it or of any outward form. 
WEB: But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then will they fast in that day.
Young’s: but days shall come when the bridegroom may be taken from them, and then they shall fast -- in those days.
Conte (RC): But the days will arrive when the groom will be taken away from them, and then they shall fast, in those days.
But the days will come. His death would change their circumstances, and then their grief would find a proper expression in fasting. The principle which Jesus announces in this passage is that fasting is not to be regulated by the calendar, but by the seasons of sorrow which God in His providence may send upon His people. 
when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them. This is the first occasion on which our Lord alludes to His removal from then. 
and then shall they fast in those days. Observe that in this answer fasting is regarded altogether as an expression of sorrow and not at all in its religious connection as a means of grace or as representative of a type of worship. 
WEB: No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, or else the patch shrinks and the new tears away from the old, and a worse hole is made.
Young’s: 'And no one a patch of undressed cloth doth sew on an old garment, and if not -- the new filling it up doth take from the old and the rent doth become worse;
Conte (RC): No one sews a patch of new cloth onto an old garment. Otherwise, the new addition pulls away from the old, and the tear becomes worse.
No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment. Even in an age with rather strict gender assigned roles and in which sewing would be a “female specific” task, the male would have to be very dense not to have picked up this piece of practical wisdom. [rw]
else the new piece that filled it up taketh [pulls, NKJV] away from the old, and the tear is made worse. When the patch of cloth shrinks it becomes too small to cover the rent or tear in the garment and, drawing itself away from the old cloth to which it was sewed, makes a new and larger hole than before. 
In depth: Interpreting the central point of the argument:
1. As contrasting the Mosaical law with that of Christ . The old garment and old wineskins are symbolic of Judaism with its laws and ceremonies. The new piece and the new wine stand for the Gospel. Law and Grace must not be mixed. If the Gospel of Grace, the new wine, is put into the old wineskins, Judaism with its laws, the wineskins go to pieces and the new wine is spilled.
2. As contrasting the law of Christ with traditions added to the Judaism authorized by Moses . The primary [purpose of verses 21-22] was to teach that they must not expect in the Messiah's kingdom a mere patching up of what had had its day and done its office, by empirical repairs and emendations of a later date, but an entire renovation. As the usages immediately in question were of human not divine institution, whatever there may be in this similitude of sarcasm or contempt, belongs not even to the temporary forms of the Mosaic dispensation, but to its traditional [glosses by later generations].
WEB: No one puts new wine into old wineskins, or else the new wine will burst the skins, and the wine pours out, and the skins will be destroyed; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins."
Young’s: and no one doth put new wine into old skins, and if not -- the new wine doth burst the skins, and the wine is poured out, and the skins will be destroyed; but new wine into new skins is to be put.'
Conte (RC): And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the wineskins, and the wine will pour out, and the wineskins will be lost. Instead, new wine must be put into new wineskins."
And no man. Another example no one could argue with for it was an illustration from everyday life, known to one and all. [rw]
putteth new wine into old bottles [wineskins, NKJV]. If these words were spoken at Matthew's feast, the leather bottles (wineskins) may possibly have been in sight. 
else the new wine doth burst the bottles. Bottles were made of the skins of goats. When the [skins] were old, the skins, having lost the power to stretch, were not strong enough to stand the pressure caused by the fermenting of new wine. 
and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred [ruined, NKJV]. There is a twofold loss--both that of the bottles and that of the wine. 
But new wine must be put into new bottles. It is a practical necessity. Your effort to force the new spirituality I am preaching into the straightjacket of your tradition would destroy it. [rw]
WEB: It happened that he was going on the Sabbath day through the grain fields, and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of grain.
Young’s: And it came to pass -- he is going along on the sabbaths through the corn-fields -- and his disciples began to make a way, plucking the ears,
Conte (RC): And again, while the Lord was walking through the ripe grain on the Sabbath, his disciples, as they advanced, began to separate the ears of grains.
And it came to pass. No time frame provided as to its chronological closeness to the prior discussion. Representing yet an additional challenge to His practices and that of His disciples, the two incidents have a thematic relationship regardless of the chronological one. [rw]
that He went through the corn fields [grainfields, NKJV]. Grain being essential to survival, these would have been abundant in agriculturally viable locations. [rw]
on the sabbath day. Called by Luke (6:1) the second-first, supposed by some to mean the second Sabbath after the beginning of the Passover. 
and His disciples began, as they went. There is no indication that He Himself was engaged in plucking the grain. He was called upon to answer for His disciples, just as they (verse 16) had been called to answer for Him. 
to pluck. They were hungry. The laws of Moses allowed any traveler to satisfy his hunger in passing the fields of others, provided he did not carry any part away (Deuteronomy ). The Pharisees objected that the act was unlawful on the Sabbath day; they did not condemn it as unlawful on any other day. It was labor, and labor of any sort on the Sabbath [that] was wrong, according to their notions. 
Whether we adopt the view that the disciples were clearing a path through standing corn, or the simpler one, that they gathered the ears of corn on the edge of a made path as they went, the point of the Pharisees' objection was that they broke the Sabbath by plucking, which was a kind of reaping. 
the ears of corn [heads of grain, NKJV]. It was not maize or our Indian corn, which was then unknown, but wheat. Matthew says that they were "an hungered" (Matthew 12:1). The act described marks the season of the year. The wheat was ripe, for they would not have rubbed barley in their hands (Luke 6:1). We may conclude, therefore, the time was a week or two after the Passover, when the first ripe sheaf was offered as the first fruits of the harvest. 
Weymouth: So the Pharisees said to Him, "Look! why are they doing what on the Sabbath is unlawful?"
WEB: The Pharisees said to him, "Behold, why do they do that which is not lawful on the Sabbath day?"
Young’s: and the Pharisees said to him, 'Lo, why do they on the sabbaths that which is not lawful?'
Conte (RC): But the Pharisees said to him, "Behold, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbaths?"
And the Pharisees said unto Him . Either at the time or soon after. 
There is no indication that He, Himself, was engaged in plucking the grain. He was called upon to answer for His disciples as they (verse 16) had been called to answer for Him. 
Behold, why do they on the Sabbath day. Any other day they would have had no objection with what was being done—or so they say. On the other hand, with the hostility that they felt, would they not at least be looking for something critical to say about the action no matter what the day? [rw]
that which is not lawful? The bulwark of Judaism was the observance of the law. The law--the book of the Law--said a good deal about it, but the doctors of the Law said a good deal more. With that curious facility that minds have for dwelling on the ceremonial rather than on the ethical side of religion, the custodians of the Law had insisted upon defining more and more stringently the obligations of the Sabbath day. 
The supposed unlawfulness was not the plucking of the ears of corn with the hand, which was expressly permitted by the Law (Deut. ), but the plucking and eating on the Sabbath day. 
It was a violation of what law? Not that of the Fourth Commandment, which simply forbade "labour," but that of the doctors' expositions of the commandment, which expended miraculous ingenuity and hair-splitting on deciding what was labour and what was not. 
WEB: He said to them, "Did you never read what David did, when he had need, and was hungry--he, and those who were with him?
Young’s: And he said to them, 'Did ye never read what David did, when he had need and was hungry, he and those with him?
Conte (RC): And he said to them: "Have you never read what David did, when he had need and was hungry, both he and those who were with him?
And He said unto them. It is noteworthy that our Lord does not avail Himself of the distinction between God's commandment and men's exposition of it. He does not embarrass Himself with two controversies at once. At fit times He disputed Rabbinical authority branded their casuistry as binding grievous burdens on men; but here He allows their assumption of the equal authority of their commentary and of the text to pass unchallenged and accepts the statement that His disciples had been doing what was unlawful on the Sabbath and vindicates their breach of law. 
have ye never read. Note the tinge of irony in that, “Did ye never read?" In all your minute study of the letter of the Scripture, did you never take heed to that page? Out of the very heart of the law which the Pharisees appealed to, in order to spin restricting prohibitions, Jesus drew an example of freedom which ran on all-fours with His disciples' case. The Pharisees had poured over the Old Testament all their lives, but it would have been long before they had found such a doctrine as this in it. 
what David did. This is drawn from the Old Testament history and presupposes their acquaintance with it and their habit of reading it. It also presupposes their acknowledgment of David as an eminent servant of God, whose official acts, unless divinely disapproved, afford examples to those placed in similar situations. The narrative referred to is still extant in 1 Samuel 21:1-6, which is thus proved to be a part of the canon recognized by Christ. 
when he had need and was an hungered. The argument is one of analogy. The disciples had broken a Sabbath rule. Yes, but they were impelled by hunger. Just so David had broken a religious regulation when he was impelled by hunger. If David was justified, so were the disciples. 
he, and they that were with him. This seems opposed to what we read in 1 Samuel 21, where David is stated to have been alone. But the facts appear that David, fleeing from Saul, went alone to Abimelech the high priest and sought and obtained five loaves of the "shewbread," which he carried away with him to his companions in flight and shared with them; for he says (1 Samuel 21:2), “I have appointed my servants to such and such a place.” 
WEB: How he entered into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the show bread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and gave also to those who were with him?"
Young’s: how he went into the house of God, (at 'Abiathar the chief priest,') and the loaves of the presentation did eat, which it is not lawful to eat, except to the priests, and he gave also to those who were with him?'
Conte (RC): How he went into the house of God, under the high priest Abiathar, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful to eat, except for the priests, and how he gave it to those who were with him?"
How he went into the house of God. The tabernacle, for the temple was not yet built. 
in the days of Abiathar the high priest. He permitted this to occur without intervening to stop it. To criticize what David did would be, automatically, criticism of the high priest for his role. [rw]
and did eat. The visit of David to the tabernacle was on the Sabbath, for the previous week's shew-bread was just being changed for the fresh, and this was done on the Sabbath (1 Samuel 21:6 with Leviticus 24:8). 
David probably came on the day the old loaves were taken away, i.e., on the Sabbath; which makes the case very appropriate. David did what was actually forbidden, yet hunger was a sufficient justification; much more might the constructive transgression of the disciples be justified by their hunger. Principle: Works of necessity have always been permitted on the Sabbath. 
the shewbread. The law of the shew-bread is given at Leviticus 24:5-9. 
which it is not lawful to eat. For David was not a priest. 
but for the priests. This was one of the special rights for them and them alone. [rw]
and gave also to them which were with him? Hence it was unquestionably David’s responsibility for what his followers did. Since the popular opinion was—rightly—that the Messiah would be the descendant of David and that he was the prototype of the Messiah as pious warrior and follower of God, the option of criticizing David was virtually ruled out. If he had been out of line—at least significantly—how could God possibly have had the high opinion of him that the Pharisees had? [rw]
In depth: The morality of David's conduct in doing that which was "not lawful" . David and his followers, when at extremity, had eaten the shewbread which it was not lawful for them to eat. It is a striking assertion. We should probably have sought a softer phrase. We should have said that in other circumstances it would have been unlawful, that only necessity made it lawful; we should have refused to look straight in the face the naked ugly fact that David broke the law.
But Jesus was not afraid
of any fact. He saw and declared that
the priests in the
Or: If human need justifies one in disregarding a technical requirement like that about the shewbread, it will also justify neglect of the technical law against labor on the Sabbath. Jesus does not say that the same principle would apply as against a purely moral requirement, such as the law of honor to parents, truthfulness, honesty, etc. 
In depth: Why is the "wrong" high priest mentioned in Mark's account ? The mention of the name is peculiar to Mark and is not without difficulty. The high priest who is mentioned in the original narrative is not Abiathar, but Abimelech, his father (1 Samuel 21:1-6). Abiathar succeeded his father in office not long after and was high priest during David's reign; so that his name is constantly associated with that of David in the history.
Various attempts have been made to reconcile the difference, some supposing that Abiathar was already assistant to his father at the time of David's visit and was present when he came, although this can be nothing but conjecture; others, that our Lord or Mark was content with mentioning the name of the chief high priest of David's time, and the one that was chiefly associated with David's name, which is the same as to say that absolute accuracy was not aimed at; others, that the name of Abiathar stands in the text of Mark as the result of a copyist's error.
The prominence interpretation . The probable reason why Mark says it was in the days of Abiathar is that Abiathar was better known than Abimelech.
The son of the high priest was regarded as his successor and was often associated with him in the duties of his office. It was not improper, therefore, to designate him as high priest--even during the life of his father--especially as that was the name by which he was afterwards known.
Abithar, moreover, in the calamitous times when David came to the throne, left the interest of Saul and fled to David, bringing with him the ephod, one of the peculiar garments of the high priest. For a long time, during David's reign, he was the high priest and it became natural, therefore, to associate his name with that of David; to speak of David as king and Abithar the high priest of his time. [This is similar to Americans referring to how] General Washington was present at the defeat of Braddock and saved his army, though the title of "general" did not belong to him till many years afterwards.
Dual name approach : Probably both father and son had the two names, Abimelech and Abiathar. In 2 Samuel 8:17 and 1 Chronicles 24:6, "Abimelech the son of Abiathar" is spoken of where the same father and son are undoubtedly referred to, since the time was during the reign of David, after the father had been killed by Doeg (1 Samuel 22). In 1 Samuel 14:3 the father is called Ahiah ("the son of Ahitub"); in 1Chronicles , the son is called "Abimelech, the son of Abithar."
WEB: He said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
Young’s: And he said to them, 'The sabbath for man was made, not man for the sabbath,
Conte (RC): And he said to them: "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.
And He said unto them. Passing over the two arguments preserved by Matthew, one derived from the labours of the priests in the temple (12:5-6), and the other from Hosea's declaration of God's preference of human welfare even to required observances (Hosea 6:6; Matthew 12:7), Mark records an answer found in neither of the others, though involved in the citation from Hosea, and perhaps originally uttered as a kind of paraphrase or commentary on it. 
The Sabbath was made for man. It was designed to promote man's good--his temporal good by the rest it affords and his spiritual good through its sacred worship. Its design must, therefore be kept in view in applying the law that forbids labor on that day. They must not put restrictions upon men in its observance which are adverse to its spirit and defeat its purpose. 
This is so obvious a proposition that one wonders why it should have been necessary for such a teacher as Jesus to give utterance to it. Yet it is not difficult upon a moment's reflection to see that the Sabbath was not being used for the benefit of man. 
The Sabbath is not an end in itself, but only a means to a higher end—which higher end is the moral good of men as a race. 
and not man for the Sabbath. The Sabbath was not made first, and man created in order to fit it, but man was made first, and the Sabbath was instituted in order to fit man. 
[It was] appointed by God for man's good, not laid upon him as a burden to which man's good is to be sacrificed. 
WEB: Therefore the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath."
Young’s: so that the son of man is lord also of the sabbath.'
Conte (RC): And so, the Son of man is Lord, even of the Sabbath."
Therefore. For this reason. 
the Son of
is Lord also of the Sabbath. Could any mere man have proclaimed his lordship over the Sabbath day? A man cannot be Lord of the Sabbath without being Lord of something beyond. 
That the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath, implies that when the welfare of man conflicts with the observance of the Sabbath, the latter must give way. But of this, man himself is not to judge, because he cannot judge with impartiality his own interests. No one is competent to judge in the case who does not know all that pertains to the welfare of man, and this is known only to the Lord. For this reason Jesus adds, "Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath;" that is , as the Son of man came to provide for man's welfare, and as the Sabbath law might need modification or even abrogation for the highest good of man, therefore lordship over the Sabbath was given to the Son of man. The passage teaches, then, not that men might violate the law of the Sabbath when their welfare seemed to them to demand it, but that Jesus could set it aside, as He afterward did, when His own judgment of man's welfare required him to do so.