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  • ADAM CLARKE'S BIBLE COMMENTARY -
    MARK 2

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    CHAPTER II

    Christ preaches in Capernaum, 1, 2. A paralytic person is brought to him, whose sins are pronounced forgiven, 3-5. The scribes accuse him of blasphemy, 6, 7. He vindicates himself, and proves his power to forgive sins, by healing the man's disease, 8-11. The people are astonished and edified, 12. He calls Levi from the receipt of custom, 13, 14. Eats in his house with publicans and sinners, at which the Pharisees murmur, 15, 16. He vindicates his conduct, 17. Vindicates his disciples, who are accused of not fasting, 18-22; and for plucking the ears of corn on the Sabbath day, 23-26; and teaches the right use of the Sabbath, 27, 28.

    NOTES ON CHAP. II

    Verse 1. "In the house." - The house of Peter, with whom Christ lodged when at Capernaum. See the notes on Matt. iv. 13; viii. 13.

    Verse 2. "So much as about the door" - Meaning the yard or court before the house.

    Preached THE WORD] ton logon. The doctrine of the kingdom of God; for so o logov is repeatedly used.

    Verse 3. "One sick of the palsy" - A paralytic person. See on Matt. ix. 2, &c.

    "Borne of four." - Four men, one at each corner of the sofa or couch on which he lay: this sick man appears to have been too feeble to come himself, and too weak to be carried in any other way.

    Verse 4. "They uncovered the roof" - The houses in the east are generally made flat-roofed, that the inhabitants may have the benefit of taking the air on them; they are also furnished with battlements round about, Deut. xxii. 8; Judg. xvi. 27; and 2 Sam. xi. 2, to prevent persons from falling off; and have a trap door by which they descend into the house. This door, it appears, was too narrow to let down the sick man and his couch; so they uncovered the roof, removed a part of the tiles; and having broken it up, taken away the laths or timber, to which the tiles had been attached, they then had room to let down the afflicted man. See Luke v. 19, and on Matt. x. 27; xxiv. 17.

    Verse 7. "Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies?" - See this explained Matt. ix. 3, &c.

    Verse 12. "He-took up the bed" - The words of PROSPER, on this place, are worthy of notice:-" What is sin but a deplorable fall, a grovelling on the earth, a repose in the creature, often followed by a universal palsy of the soul; namely, an utter inability to help itself, to break off its evil habits, to walk in the ways of God, to rise or to take one good step towards him? Grace can repair all in a moment: because it is nothing but the almighty will of God, who commands and does whatever he commands."

    Verse 14. "Levi" - The same as Matthew; he appears to have been a Jew, though employed in the odious office of a tax- gatherer. For an account of his call, see his Gospel, Matt. ix. 9, &c.

    Verse 16. "Sinners" - By amartwloi, the Gentiles or heathens are generally to be understood in the Gospels, for this was a term the Jews never applied to any of themselves, See the note on Matthew ix. 10.

    "How is it that he eateth" - Some very good MSS., several versions, with Chrysostom and Augustin, read, Why doth YOUR MASTER eat?

    Verse 17. "To repentance." - This is omitted by ABDKL, twenty- seven others; both the Syriac, Persic, Coptic, AEthiopic, Armenian, Gothic, Vulgate; six copies of the Itala; Euthymius and Augustin. Griesbach has left it out of the text; Grotius, Mill, and Bengel approve of the omission. See on Matt. ix. 13. I leave it as in the parallel place above quoted.

    Properly speaking, the righteous cannot be called to repentance. They have already forsaken sin, mourned for it, and turned to God. In the other parallel place, Luke v. 32, all the MSS. and versions retain metanoian, repentance.

    Verse 18. "Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast" - See this largely explained on Matt. ix. 14, &c. The following vices are very common to Pharisees.

    1. They are more busied in censuring the conduct of others than in rectifying their own.

    2. They desire that every one should regulate his piety by theirs; and embrace their particular customs and forms of devotion.

    3. They speak of and compare themselves with other people, only that they may have an opportunity of distinguishing and exalting themselves.

    On the nature, times, and duration of fasting, see Matt. vi. 16; ix. 15.

    Verse 19. "Can the children of the bride-chamber fast while the bridegroom is with them?" - Among the Hindoos, large parties of friends, belonging both to the bride and bridegroom, attend on both during the wedding day; on the following day, when the bridegroom leaves the house of his father-in-law, the attendants are filled with sorrow, especially the near relations.-WARD'S Customs.

    Verse 20. "In those days." - But instead of en ekeinaiv taiv hmeraiv, many of the best MSS. and versions read, en ekeinh th hmera, in that day; viz. the day in which Jesus Christ should be delivered up to the Jews and Gentiles. Mill and Bengel approve of this reading, and Griesbach adopts it. The former part of the verse seems to vindicate the common reading.

    Verse 21. "No man-seweth" - See Matt. ix. 16. No man seweth a piece of unscoured cloth upon an old garment. In the common editions this verse begins with kai, and, but this is omitted by almost every MS. and version of note. The construction of the whole verse is various in the MSS. The translation given here, and in Matt. ix. 16, is intelligible, and speaks for itself.

    Verse 23. "Went through the corn fields" - See on Matt. xii. 1.

    Verse 26. "The days of Abiathar the high priest" - It appears from 1 Sam. xxi. 1, which is the place referred to here, that Ahimelech was then high priest at Nob: and from 1 Sam. xxii. 20; xxiii. 6, and 1 Chron. xviii. 16, it appears that Abiathar was the son of Ahimelech. The Persic reads Abimelech instead of Abiathar. Theophylact supposes that Abiathar was the priest, and Ahimelech or Abimelech the high priest, and thus endeavours to reconcile both the sacred historians. Others reconcile the accounts thus: Ahimelech was called Ahimelech Abiathar, ba ab, father, understood; and Abiathar was called Abiathar Ahimelech, b ben, son, understood. Probably they both officiated in the high priesthood; and the name of the office was indifferently applied to either.

    "Shew-bread" - See Matt. xii. 4.

    Verse 27. "The Sabbath was made for man" - That he might have the seventh part of his whole time to devote to the purposes of bodily rest and spiritual exercises. And in these respects it is of infinite use to mankind. Where no Sabbath is observed, there disease, poverty, and profligacy, generally prevail. Had we no Sabbath, we should soon have no religion. This whole verse is wanting in the Codex Bezae, and in five of the Itala.

    Verse 28. "The Son of man is Lord" - See on Matt. xii. 7, 8. Some have understood this as applying to men in general, and not to Christ. The Son of man, any man is Lord of the Sabbath; i.e. it was made for him, for his ease, comfort, and use, and to these purposes he is to apply it. But this is a very harsh, and at the same time a very lax, mode of interpretation; for it seems to say that a man may make what use he pleases of the Sabbath; and, were this true, the moral obligation of the Sabbath would soon be annihilated.

    GOD ordained the Sabbath not only to be a type of that rest which remains for the people of God, but to be also a mean of promoting the welfare of men in general.

    The ordinances of religion should be regulated according to their end, which is the honour of God, and the salvation of men. It is the property of the true religion to contain nothing in it but what is beneficial to man. Hereby God plainly shows that it is neither out of indigence or interest that he requires men to worship and obey him; but only out of goodness, and to make them happy. God prohibited work on the Sabbath day, lest servants should be oppressed by their masters, that the labouring beasts might have necessary rest, and that men might have a proper opportunity to attend upon his ordinances, and get their souls saved. To the Sabbath, under God, we owe much of what is requisite and necessary as well for the body as the soul.

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