According to Mark 2:1-28

2  However, after some days he again entered into Ca·perʹna·um, and the word spread that he was at home.+  And so many gathered that there was no more room, not even around the door, and he began to speak the word to them.+  And they brought him a paralytic carried by four men.+  But they could not bring him right to Jesus because of the crowd, so they removed the roof above Jesus, and after digging an opening, they lowered the stretcher on which the paralytic was lying.  When Jesus saw their faith,+ he said to the paralytic: “Child, your sins are forgiven.”+  Now some of the scribes were there, sitting and reasoning in their hearts:+  “Why is this man talking this way? He is blaspheming.+ Who can forgive sins except one, God?”+  But immediately Jesus discerned by his spirit that they were reasoning that way among themselves, so he said to them: “Why are you reasoning these things in your hearts?+  Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and pick up your stretcher and walk’? 10  But in order for you to know that the Son of man+ has authority to forgive sins on earth—”+ he said to the paralytic: 11  “I say to you, Get up, pick up your stretcher, and go to your home.” 12  At that he got up and immediately picked up his stretcher and walked out in front of them all. So they were all astonished, and they glorified God, saying: “We have never seen anything like this.”+ 13  Again he went out alongside the sea, and all the crowd kept coming to him, and he began to teach them. 14  And as he was passing by, he caught sight of Leʹvi the son of Al·phaeʹus sitting at the tax office, and he said to him: “Be my follower.” At that he rose up and followed him.+ 15  Later he was dining in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many of them who were following him.+ 16  But when the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they began saying to his disciples: “Does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17  On hearing this, Jesus said to them: “Those who are strong do not need a physician, but those who are ill do. I came to call, not righteous people, but sinners.”+ 18  Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees practiced fasting. So they came and said to him: “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees practice fasting, but your disciples do not practice fasting?”+ 19  So Jesus said to them: “While the bridegroom+ is with them, the friends of the bridegroom have no reason to fast, do they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.+ 20  But days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them,+ and then they will fast on that day. 21  Nobody sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old outer garment. If he does, the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear becomes worse.+ 22  Also, no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost as well as the skins. But new wine is put into new wineskins.” 23  Now as he was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, his disciples started to pluck the heads of grain as they went.+ 24  So the Pharisees said to him: “Look here! Why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25  But he said to them: “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and the men with him were hungry?+ 26  How, in the account about A·biʹa·thar+ the chief priest, he entered into the house of God and ate the loaves of presentation, which it is not lawful for anybody to eat except the priests,+ and he also gave some to the men who were with him?” 27  Then he said to them: “The Sabbath came into existence for the sake of man,+ and not man for the sake of the Sabbath. 28  So the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”+


Study Notes

Capernaum: From a Hebrew name meaning “Village of Nahum” or “Village of Comforting.” (Na 1:1, ftn.) A city of major importance in Jesus’ earthly ministry, it was located at the NW shore of the Sea of Galilee and was called “his own city” at Mt 9:1.

his own city: That is, Capernaum, Jesus’ home base in the region. (Mt 4:13; Mr 2:1) This city was not far from Nazareth, where he grew up; from Cana, where he turned water into wine; from Nain, where he resurrected the son of a widow; and from the vicinity of Bethsaida, where he miraculously fed about 5,000 men and restored sight to a blind man.

Capernaum: See study note on Mt 4:13.

at home: Jesus spent most of the first three years of his ministry in and around Galilee with Capernaum the center of his activity. He may have stayed at the home of Peter and Andrew.​—Mr 1:29; see study note on Mt 9:1.

removed the roof . . . digging an opening: The roofs of many houses in first-century Israel were flat and were accessed by means of stairs or an external ladder. Mark’s account does not specifically state what the roof of this house was made of. But roofs were often constructed of wooden beams covered with branches, reeds, and a layer of earth, which was plastered. Some houses had tiles; according to Luke’s account, the man was lowered “through the tiling.” (See study note on Lu 5:19.) The friends of the paralytic man could easily have made an opening that would allow enough space to lower the stretcher into the crowded room below.

through the tiling: The account about Jesus healing a paralytic man is recorded in the Gospels of Matthew (9:1-8), Mark (2:1-12), and Luke. The three accounts are complementary. Matthew mentions nothing about the man’s being lowered through the roof, while Mark explains that the man’s friends removed the roof and dug an opening through which they lowered the man on a stretcher. Luke says that the man was lowered “through the tiling.” (See study note on Mr 2:4.) The Greek word rendered “tiling” (keʹra·mos) can refer to “clay,” the material that the tiles were made of, but here the plural form of the Greek word seems to refer to “roof tiles.” There is evidence that tiled roofs were used in ancient Israel. While it is not possible to say exactly what kind of roof the accounts of Mark and Luke describe, the individual tiles may have been put on the mud roof or somehow embedded in it. In any case, the accounts clearly convey that the friends of the paralyzed man went to great lengths to put him before Jesus. These acts no doubt showed the depth of their faith, for all three accounts mention that Jesus “saw their faith.”​—Lu 5:20.

child: Used by Jesus as a term of endearment.​—2Ti 1:2; Tit 1:4; Phm 10.

saw their faith: See study note on Mt 9:2.

Child: See study note on Mt 9:2.

seeing their faith: The use of the plural pronoun “their” shows that Jesus noted how much faith the entire group had, not just the paralyzed man.

scribes: This term originally referred to copyists of the Scriptures, but during Jesus’ time, it referred to those who were experts in the Law and teachers of it.

scribes: See study note on Mt 2:4 and Glossary, “Scribe.”

by his spirit: Or “in himself (in his own mind).” Here the Greek word pneuʹma evidently refers to Jesus’ perceptive powers. Isa 11:2, 3 says about the Messiah: “The spirit of Jehovah will settle upon him,” so he would not base his judgment on “what appears to his eyes.” As a result, Jesus was able to discern the thinking, reasoning, and motives of others.​—Joh 2:24, 25.

Which is easier: It would be easy for someone to say that he could forgive sins, since no visible evidence would be needed in order to substantiate such a claim. But to say, Get up . . . and walk required a miracle that would make plain for all to see that Jesus had the authority to forgive sins. This account and Isa 33:24 link sickness to our sinful condition.

Son of man: See study note on Mt 8:20.

to forgive sins on earth​—: See study note on Mt 9:6.

to forgive sins​—: The dash indicates that Jesus stopped in mid-sentence and then powerfully proved his point by publicly healing the man.

Son of man: Or “Son of a human.” This expression occurs about 80 times in the Gospels. Jesus used it to refer to himself, evidently emphasizing that he was truly human, born from a woman, and that he was a fitting human counterpart to Adam, having the power to redeem humankind from sin and death. (Ro 5:12, 14-15) The same expression also identified Jesus as the Messiah, or the Christ.​—Da 7:13, 14; see Glossary.

the sea: That is, the Sea of Galilee.​—Mr 1:16; see study note on Mt 4:18.

the Sea of Galilee: A freshwater inland lake in northern Israel. (The Greek word translated “sea” may also mean “lake.”) It has been called the Sea of Chinnereth (Nu 34:11), the lake of Gennesaret (Lu 5:1), and the Sea of Tiberias (Joh 6:1). It lies an average of 210 m (700 ft) below sea level. It is 21 km (13 mi) long from N to S and 12 km (8 mi) wide, and its greatest depth is about 48 m (160 ft).​—See App. A7, Map 3B, “Activity at the Sea of Galilee.”

James the son of Alphaeus: Evidently the same disciple as the one called “James the Less” at Mr 15:40. It is generally thought that Alphaeus was the same person as Clopas (Joh 19:25), which would also make him the husband of “the other Mary” (Mt 27:56; 28:1; Mr 15:40; 16:1; Lu 24:10). The Alphaeus mentioned here is evidently not the same person as the Alphaeus mentioned at Mr 2:14, the father of Levi.

Levi: In the parallel account at Mt 9:9, this disciple is called Matthew. When referring to him as a former tax collector, Mark and Luke use the name Levi (Lu 5:27, 29), but they use the name Matthew when mentioning him as one of the apostles (Mr 3:18; Lu 6:15; Ac 1:13). The Scriptures do not reveal whether Levi already had the name Matthew before becoming a disciple of Jesus. Mark is the only Gospel writer to mention that Matthew Levi was the son of Alphaeus.​—See study note on Mr 3:18.

Alphaeus: Evidently not the same person as the Alphaeus mentioned at Mr 3:18 (see study note on Mr 3:18), who was the father of James, the 9th apostle of the 12 apostles listed.​—Mt 10:3; Lu 6:15.

tax office: Or “tax collection booth.” This could be a small building or a booth where the tax collector sat and gathered taxes on exports, imports, and goods taken through a country by merchants. Levi, also known as Matthew, worked at a tax office located in or near Capernaum.

Be my follower: The Greek verb used in this exhortation has the basic sense of “to go along behind, come after,” but here it means “to follow someone as a disciple.”

James the son of Alphaeus: Evidently the same disciple as the one called “James the Less” at Mr 15:40. It is generally thought that Alphaeus was the same person as Clopas (Joh 19:25), which would also make him the husband of “the other Mary” (Mt 27:56; 28:1; Mr 15:40; 16:1; Lu 24:10). The Alphaeus mentioned here is evidently not the same person as the Alphaeus mentioned at Mr 2:14, the father of Levi.

dining: Or “reclining at the table.” To recline with someone at a table indicated close fellowship with that person. Thus, Jews in Jesus’ day would normally never have reclined at the table, or taken a meal, with non-Jews.

his house: Refers to Levi’s house.​—Mt 9:10; Lu 5:29.

tax collectors: See study note on Mt 5:46.

sinners: See study note on Mt 9:10.

sinners: The Bible shows that all humans are sinners. (Ro 3:23; 5:12) Therefore, the term is used here in a more specific way, evidently referring to those who had a reputation for practicing sin, perhaps of a moral or a criminal nature. (Lu 7:37-39; 19:7, 8) This term was also used for non-Jewish people and by the Pharisees for Jewish people who did not observe the rabbinic traditions.​—Joh 9:16, 24, 25.

tax collectors: Many Jews collected taxes for the Roman authorities. People hated such Jews because they not only collaborated with a resented foreign power but also extorted more than the official tax rate. Tax collectors were generally shunned by fellow Jews, who put them on the same level as sinners and prostitutes.​—Mt 11:19; 21:32.

tax collectors: See study note on Mt 5:46.

tax collectors: Many Jews collected taxes for the Roman authorities. People hated such Jews because they not only collaborated with a resented foreign power but also extorted more than the official tax rate. Tax collectors were generally shunned by fellow Jews, who put them on the same level as sinners and prostitutes.​—Mt 11:19; 21:32.

practice fasting: See study note on Mt 6:16.

fast: That is, abstain from food for a limited time. (See Glossary.) Jesus never commanded his disciples to fast, nor did he direct them to avoid the practice altogether. Under the Mosaic Law, rightly motivated Jews humbled themselves before Jehovah and showed repentance for sin by means of fasts.​—1Sa 7:6; 2Ch 20:3.

friends of the bridegroom: See study note on Mt 9:15.

friends of the bridegroom: Lit., “sons of the bridechamber,” an idiom describing wedding guests but especially the friends of the bridegroom.

wine into . . . wineskins: See study note on Mt 9:17.

wine into . . . wineskins: It was common in Bible times to store wine in animal skins. (1Sa 16:20) Skin bottles were made of the complete hides of domestic animals, such as sheep or goats. Old leather wineskins would become stiff and lose their elasticity. New wineskins, on the other hand, could stretch and swell and thus could withstand the pressure caused by the ongoing process of fermentation of new wine.​—See Glossary, “Wineskin.”

through the grainfields: Perhaps by means of footpaths that separated one tract of land from another.

through the grainfields: See study note on Mt 12:1.

Sabbath: See Glossary.

what is not lawful: See study note on Mt 12:2.

what is not lawful: Jehovah had commanded that the Israelites do no work on the Sabbath. (Ex 20:8-10) Jewish religious leaders claimed the right to define exactly what constituted work. According to them, Jesus’ disciples were guilty of harvesting (plucking) and threshing (rubbing) grain. (Lu 6:1, 2) However, such a definition overstepped Jehovah’s command.

in the account about: The Greek preposition e·piʹ used here can refer to time or to place/location, such as a passage of Scripture. Most translators understand it to mean “when (Abiathar was . . . ).” However, as explained in the study note on Abiathar the chief priest in this verse, the historical event that Jesus is referring to (1Sa 21:1-6) makes it more likely that the Greek preposition should be understood in a locative sense, that is, referring to a Scriptural account. A similar Greek structure is found at Mr 12:26 and Lu 20:37, where many translations use the phrase “in the account (passage) about.”

Abiathar the chief priest: The Greek term used here may be rendered “high priest” or “chief priest.” The latter rendering is more appropriate for Abiathar, since his father, Ahimelech, was high priest on the occasion described. (1Sa 21:1-6) Abiathar is first mentioned shortly after David entered the house of God and ate the showbread. It seems that as a son of High Priest Ahimelech, Abiathar was already serving as a prominent, or chief, priest at that time. He was the only son of Ahimelech to survive the slaughter by Doeg the Edomite. (1Sa 22:18-20) He later became high priest, evidently during David’s reign. Even if the rendering “high priest” is used, the Greek construction rendered “in the account about” is broad and may refer to the larger section of 1 Samuel chapters 21 to 23, where a number of references are made to Abiathar, who later became a well-known high priest. Some Greek scholars favor the rendering “in the time of Abiathar the high priest,” which could also refer to the overall time period, including the time when Abiathar later became high priest. Whatever the explanation, we can be sure that this statement of Jesus was in harmony with the historical facts.

house of God: Here referring to the tabernacle. The account Jesus refers to (1Sa 21:1-6) occurred when the tabernacle was located at Nob, a town evidently in the territory of Benjamin and close to Jerusalem.​—See App. B7 (inset).

loaves of presentation: See study note on Mt 12:4 and Glossary, “Showbread.”

loaves of presentation: Or “showbread.” The Hebrew expression literally means “bread of the face.” The bread was figuratively before Jehovah as a constant offering to him.​—Ex 25:30; see Glossary and App. B5.

Lord . . . of the Sabbath: Jesus applies this expression to himself (Mt 12:8; Lu 6:5), indicating that the Sabbath was at his disposal for doing the work commanded by his heavenly Father. (Compare Joh 5:19; 10:37, 38.) On the Sabbath, Jesus performed some of his most outstanding miracles, which included healing the sick. (Lu 13:10-13; Joh 5:5-9; 9:1-14) This evidently foreshadowed the kind of relief he will bring during his Kingdom rule, which will be like a sabbath rest.​—Heb 10:1.