Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford
And again he entered into Capernaum, after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.Chap. 2:1-12.] Healing of a paralytic at Capernaum. Matthew 9:2-8, where see notes. Luke 5:17-26. The three are evidently independent accounts; Mark’s, as usual, the most precise in details; e.g. “borne of four;” Luke’s also bearing marks of an eye-witness (see ver. 19, end); Matthew’s apparently at second hand.
1.] διʼ ἡμερῶν, after an interval of some days: see reff.
εἰς οἶκον, in doors; as εἰς ἀγρόν, to the country, ch. 16:12: = εἰς τὸν οἶκον, εἰς τὸν ἀγρόν,—the practice of omitting the art. after a preposition being universal, and apparently regulated by no assignable rule. See examples in Middleton, ch. vi. § 1, which however in later Greek are by no means limited to the class of nouns there mentioned, but are found with nouns of all classes of meaning.
The εἰς combines motion with the construction,—‘that he had gone home, and was there.’
2.] In this verse we have again the peculiar minute depicting of Mark. Wordsw. believes “these minute notices … to be recorded by the Evangelist with a studied design, lest it should be supposed that, because he incorporates so much which is in St. Matthew’s Gospel, he was only a copyist: and in order to shew that he did so because he knew from ocular testimony that St. Matthew’s narrative was adequate and accurate.” I mention this, to shew to what shifts the advocates of the theory of the “interdependence” of the Evangelists are now reduced.
μηκέτι … μηδέ] so that not even the parts towards the door (much less the house) would any longer hold them (they once sufficed to hold them).
ἐλάλει, in the strict imperfect sense: He was speaking to them the word, when that which is about to be related happened.
3, 4.] It would appear that Jesus was speaking to the crowd from the upper story of the house, they being assembled in the court, or perhaps (but less probably) in the street. Those who bore the paralytic ascended the stairs which led direct from the street to the flat roof of the house, and let him down through the tiles (διὰ τῶν κεραμῶν, Luke). See the extract from Dr. Robinson, describing the Jewish house, in note on Matthew 26:69.
7. οὗτος οὕτως] The first word depreciates: the second exaggerates.
8.] The knowledge was immediate and supernatural, as is most carefully and precisely here signified.
11. σοὶ λ.] The stress is on σοί. The words are precisely those used, as so often in Mark,—and denote the turning to the paralytic and addressing him. There may have been something in his state, which required the emphatic address.
The three accounts are in matter nearly identical, and in diction so minutely and unaccountably varied, as to declare here, as elsewhere, their independence of one another, except in having had some common source from which they have more or less deflected. (These remarks do not apply to the diversity of the names Matthew and Levi, which must be accounted for on other grounds. See, as throughout the passage, the notes on Matt.)
13. πάλιν] See ch. 1:16. On τὸν τοῦ Ἀλφαίου see notes, Matthew 13:55; and 10:1 ff.
15.] The entertainment was certainly in Levi’s house, not as Meyer, ., in that of our Lord, which last is a pure fiction, and is not any where designated in the Gospel accounts. Certainly the καλέσαι, ver. 17, gives no countenance to the view. Our Lord, and those following Him as disciples, were ordinarily entertained where He was invited, which will account for ἠκολοὐθουν αὐτῷ:—and the change of subject in the two, αὐτόν and αὐτοῦ, is no uncommon thing: see a similar change in Luke 19:3, where to be consistent Meyer ought to understand ὅτι τῇ ἡλ. μικ. ἦν of our Lord. To help out his interpretation he strangely enough makes καλέσαι, ver. 17, mean ‘to invite.’
ἦσαν γὰρ … αὐτῷ, peculiar to Mark.
16.] ἰδόντες αὐτ. ἐσθ., having observed Him eating; but not to be literally pressed. The question was after the feast, at which, being in the house of a Publican, they were not present.
18. καὶ ἦσαν κ.τ.λ.] Mark here gives a notice for the information of his readers, as in ch. 7:3, which places shew that his Gospel was not written for the use of Jews. It appears from this account, which is here the more circumstantial, that the Pharisees and disciples of John asked the question in the third person, as of others. In Matt. it is the disciples of John, and they join ἡμεῖς καὶ οἱ Φαρ. In Luke, it is the Pharisees and Scribes, and they ask as here. . understands it, that the disciples of John and the Pharisees were at that particular time keeping a fast, and that this gave occasion to the question. The verb subst. with the part. may mean this, and Mark himself apparently uses it so, ch. 10:32, and 14:4: but much more frequently it describes a practice or state, e.g. ἦν γὰρ ἔχων κτήματα πολλά, Matthew 19:22,—οἱ ἀστ. ἔσονται ἐκ τ. οὐρ. πίπτοντες, ch. 13:25. See also ch. 1:6, 22, 39. I cannot think that the fact of their being at that time keeping a fast would be thus expressed: it certainly would be further specified.
19. ὅσον … νηστεύειν] This repetition, contained neither in Matt. nor Luke, is inconsistent with the design of an abridger; and sufficiently shews the primary authority of this report, as also the ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμ. ver. 20. St. Mark especially loves these solemn repetitions: cf. ch. 9:42 ff. It is strange to see such a Commentator as De Wette calling the ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμ. a proof of carelessness. It is a touching way, as Meyer well observes, of expressing ‘in that atra dies.’
21.] Render, the filling-up takes away from it, the new from the old, and a worse rent takes place. See note on Matt. The addition here of τὸ καινόν confirms the view taken of the parable there.
23-28.] The disciples pluck ears of corn on the Sabbath. Matthew 12:1-8. Luke 6:1-5. The same may be said of the three accounts as in the last case, with continually fresh evidence of their entire independence of one another.
23. παραπ. διὰ] He passed by or journeyed (so our Evangelist uses the word, see reff.) through, &c.
ὁδὸν ποιεῖν τίλ. is matter of detail and minute depiction. The interpretation of this narrative given by Meyer, which I still believe to be an entirely mistaken one, I cannot pass over so slightly as I did in my first edition. He urges the strict classical sense of ὁδὸν ποιεῖν, ‘to make a way,’ viam munire, or sternere, and insists on the sense conveyed by our narrative being, as distinguished from those in ║ Matt., Luke, that the disciples made a way for themselves through the wheat field by plucking the ears of corn, further maintaining, that there is no allusion here to their having eaten the grains of wheat, as in ║ Matt. Luke. But (1) the foundation on which all this is built is insecure. For ὁδὸν ποιεῖν in the LXX does undoubtedly mean ‘to make one’s journey,’ representing the Heb. עָשָׂה דֶּרֶךְ, in Judges 17:8 (examples are also quoted in the lexx. from Xenophon (the romancer)’s Ephesiaca and from Polyænus). And (2) as to no allusion being made to their having eaten the corn, how otherwise could the χρείαν ἔχειν have been common to the disciples and to David? Could it be said that any necessity compelled them to clear the path by pulling up the overhanging stalks of corn? How otherwise could the remarkable addition in our narrative, ver. 27, at all bear upon the case? Fritzsche’s rendering, ‘cœperunt viam exprimere spicas evellendo,’ which he explains, ‘to mark the way by plucking ears, and strewing them in it,’ is still worse. The classical sense of ὁδὸν ποιεῖν must evidently not be pressed: it here ὁδὸν ποιεῖσθαι.
25. αὐτός] Himself, taking up the cause of his disciples and not leaving their defence to themselves.
26. ἐπὶ Ἀβ. ἀρχ.] during the high-priesthood of Abiathar. But in 1Sa_21, from which this account is taken, Ahimelech, not Abiathar, is the high-priest. There is however considerable confusion in the names about this part of the history: Ahimelech himself is called Ahiah, 1Samuel 14:3; and whereas (1Samuel 22:20) Ahimelech has a son Abiathar, in 2Samuel 8:17, Ahimelech is the son of Abiathar, and in 1Chronicles 18:16, Abimelech. Amidst this variation, we can hardly undertake to explain the difficulty in the text. The insertion of the art. before ἀρχ. has been apparently done to give the words the sense ‘In the time of Abiathar the High-priest,’ so that the difficulty might be avoided by understanding the event to have happened in the time of (but not necessarily during the high-priesthood of) Abiathar (who was afterwards) the High-priest. But supposing the reading to be so, what author would in an ordinary narrative think of designating an event thus? Who for instance would speak of the defeat of the Philistines at Ephesdammim, where Goliath fell, as happening ἐπὶ Δανεὶδ τοῦ βασιλέως? Who would ever understand ἐπὶ Ἐλισσαίου τοῦ προφήτου, ‘in the time of Elisæus the prophet,’ as importing, in matter of fact, any other period than that of the prophetic course of Elisha? (The ἐγέννησεν Δανεὶδ τὸν βασιλέα of Matthew 1:6 is not a case in point.) Yet this is the way in which the difficulties of the Gospels have been attempted to be healed over. (See Middleton on the article, in loc.) With the restoration of the true reading, even this resource fails. (I am sorry to see that Bp. Wordsw. writes, “ἐπὶ Ἀβιάθαρ ἀρχιερέως intimates indeed that it was in the days of Abiathar, but it rather suggests that he was not the High-priest then:” comparing ἐπὶ ἀρχιερέως Ἄννα, Luke 3:2. But surely Bp. W. must know, that such a rendering is ungrammatical: that ἀρχ ιερέως without the article must be simply predicatory, whether it precedes or follows the proper name; “when Abiathar was High-priest,”—and cannot be titular. The expression in 1 Mace. 13:42, which he quotes as similar, is not a case in point, as any reader may judge: ἐπὶ Σίμωνος ἀρχιερέως μεγάλου κ. στρατηγοῦ καὶ ἡγουμένου τῶν Ἰουδαίων: the epithet μεγάλου makes all the difference.)
27.] τὸ σάβ … διὰ τὸ ς. is peculiar to Mark, and highly important. The Sabbath was an ordinance for man; for man’s rest, both actually and typically, as setting forth the rest which remains for God’s people (Hebrews 4:9). But He who is now speaking has taken on Himself Manhood, the whole nature of Man; and is rightful lord over creation as granted to man, and of all that is made for man, and therefore of the Sabbath. The whole dispensation of time is created for man, for Christ as He is man, and is in his absolute power. There is a remarkable parallel, in more than the mere mode of expression, in 2 Mace. 5:19: οὐ διὰ τὸν τόπον τὸ ἔθνος, ἀλλὰ διὰ τὸ ἔθνος τὸν τόπον ὁ κύριος ἐξελέξατο.
28. καί] as well as of His other domains or elements of lordship and power.