Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
And again he entered into Capernaum, after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.II.
(1) And again he entered into Capernaum.—See Notes on Matthew 9:1-8. St. Mark alone names Capernaum, St. Matthew describing it as “His own city.” The house may have been Peter’s, as before in Mark 1:29.
And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.(2) No, not so much as about the door.—Another of St. Mark’s graphic touches of description.
He preached the word.—Literally, He spake the word.
And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.(3) Borne of four.—The number of the bearers is given by St. Mark only.
And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.(4) They uncovered the roof . . . when they had broken it up.—The strong expressions of the injury done to the roof are peculiar to St. Mark. St. Luke gives, “through the tiles.”
They let down the bed.—St. Mark uses a different word from St. Matthew, the Greek form of the Latin word grabatus, the pallet or camp-bed used by the poor. The same word appears in John 5:8-10, and in Acts 5:15; Acts 9:33, but not at all in St. Matthew or St. Luke.
But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,(6) Certain of the scribes.—These are described by St. Luke (Luke 5:17) as “having come from every village of Galilee, and Judæa, and Jerusalem.”
Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?(7) Why doth this man . . .?—The better MSS. give, “Why doth this Man thus speak? He blasphemeth.”
And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?(8) When Jesus perceived in his spirit.—The special mention of the spirit as the region of our Lord’s consciousness is, as part of this narrative, peculiar to St. Mark, and is not without importance in its bearing on the reality and completeness of our Lord’s human nature.
And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.(12) We never saw it on this fashion.—St. Matthew gives the substance but not the words. St. Luke, “We have seen strange things to-day.”
And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.(14-17) Levi the son of Alphæus.—See Notes on Matthew 9:9-13. St. Mark and St. Luke agree in giving the name Levi, the former alone describes him as the son of Alphæus.
When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.(17) I came not to call the righteous.—Closely as the three accounts agree, it is noticeable that here also St. Mark and St. Luke, as writing for Gentile readers, omit the reference which we find in Matthew 9:13, to the words cited by our Lord from the Old Testament.
And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?(18-22) And the disciples of John. . . . used to fast.—Better, were fasting. See Notes on Matthew 9:14-17. The only difference in detail between the two accounts is that in St. Matthew the disciples of John are more definitely specified as being the questioners.
And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.(23-28) And it came to pass.—See Notes on Matthew 12:1-8.
As they went . . .—More literally, they began to make a path (or perhaps, to make their way), plucking the ears of corn.
How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?(26) In the days of Abiathar the high priest.—St. Mark’s is the only record that gives the name of the high priest, and in so doing it creates an historical difficulty. In 1Samuel 21:1, Ahimelech is named as exercising the high priest’s office in the Tabernacle at Nob. He is slain by Doeg, at the command of Saul, and his son Abiathar joins David at the cave of Adullam (1Samuel 22:20), and continues to act as high priest till his deposition by Solomon (1Kings 2:26). Two conjectural explanations suggest themselves as probable: (1) that St. Mark, or that our Lord, may have given the name of the more famous priest of the two, who, though not then high-priest, was at the Tabernacle at the time referred to; (2) that he might have acted then as a coadjutor to his father, as Eli’s sons seem to have done to him (1Samuel 4:4), and being, as his flight showed, of David’s party, was the chief agent in allowing him to take the shew-bread.