Mark 2:15
And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
2:13-17 Matthew was not a good character, or else, being a Jew, he would never have been a publican, that is, a tax-gatherer for the Romans. However, Christ called this publican to follow him. With God, through Christ, there is mercy to pardon the greatest sins, and grace to change the greatest sinners, and make them holy. A faithful, fair-dealing publican was rare. And because the Jews had a particular hatred to an office which proved that they were subject to the Romans, they gave these tax-gatherers an ill name. But such as these our blessed Lord did not hesitate to converse with, when he appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh. And it is no new thing for that which is both well done and well designed, to be slandered, and turned to the reproach of the wisest and best of men. Christ would not withdraw, though the Pharisees were offended. If the world had been righteous, there had been no occasion for his coming, either to preach repentance, or to purchase forgiveness. We must not keep company with ungodly men out of love to their vain conversation; but we are to show love to their souls, remembering that our good Physician had the power of healing in himself, and was in no danger of taking the disease; but it is not so with us. In trying to do good to others, let us be careful we do not get harm to ourselves.Sat at meat in the house - The words "at meat" are not in the original. The phrase means "as he reclined at his meal," or "as he was eating." This feast was made by Matthew in honor of the Saviour. See Luke 5:29.

Publicans - See the notes at Matthew 5:47.

Sinners - Sinners of abandoned character - of the same character that publicans commonly sustained - fit companions of publicans - great sinners.

There were many - That is, many "disciples." Their following him, leaving their homes, and going with him from place to place, was proof of their attachment to him. There is no doubt that our Saviour, in the early part of his ministry, was extremely popular. Multitudes of the common people attended him, and gave conclusive evidence that they were his real disciples, and it was only after much opposition from the rich and the great that he ever became unpopular among the people. Perhaps no preacher has ever attracted so universal attention, and produced so decisive effects upon mankind, as did our Lord in his personal ministry.

Mr 2:13-17. Levi's (OR Matthew's) Call and Feast. ( = Mt 9:9-13; Lu 5:27-32).

See on [1408]Mt 9:9-13.

See Poole on "Mark 2:15"

And it came to pass, that as Jesus sat at meat in his house,.... In the house of Levi; not in the custom house, or toll booth, for that he left; but in his house in the city of Capernaum, where he had him, and made an entertainment for him, in token of gratitude, for the high favour bestowed on him:

many publicans and sinners sat also together, with Jesus, and his disciples; being invited by Levi, and not objected to by Christ; See Gill on Matthew 9:10.

for there were many, and they followed him; either Christ whom they had observed to have called Matthew, and had heard preach by the sea side; or else Matthew; and so the Persic version renders it, "for many followed Matthew". The Ethiopic version reads the words, "and they were many", that is, publicans and sinners, "and the Scribes and Pharisees followed him"; mentioned in the next verse, from whence it seems to be taken; though true it is, that not only a large number of publicans and sinners followed Christ, but also many of the Scribes and Pharisees; yet with a different view from the former, not to get any advantage to themselves, but, if they could, an advantage against Christ.

And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Mark 2:15. ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτου: whose house? Not perfectly clear, but all things point to that of Levi. There is no mention of a return to Capernaum, where Jesus dwelt. The custom house may have been outside the town, nearer the shore. Then if the house of Jesus (Peter’s) had been meant, the name of Jesus should have stood after οἰκία instead of at the close of the verse. The main point to note is that whatever house is meant, it must have been large enough to have a hall or court capable of accommodating a large number of people. Furrer assumes as a matter of course that the gathering was in the court. “Here in the court of one of these ruined houses sat the Saviour of the lost in the midst of publicans and sinners” (Wanderungen, p. 375).—πολλοὶ, etc.: many to be taken in earnest, not slurred over, as we are apt to do when we think of this feast as a private entertainment given by Mt. to his quond m friends, Jesus being nothing more than a guest.—ἦσαν γὰρ πολλοὶ καὶ ἠκολούθουν αὐτῷ: Mk. here takes pains to prevent us from overlooking the πολλοὶ of the previous clause = for they, the publicans, and generally the people who passed for sinners, were many, and they had begun to follow Him. Some (Schanz, Weiss, etc.) think the reference is to the disciples (μαθηταῖς), mentioned here for first time, therefore a statement that they were numerous (more, e.g., than four), quite apposite. But the stress of the story lies on the publicans, and Christ’s relations with them. (So Holtz., H. C.) It was an interesting fact to the evangelist that this class, of whom there was a large number in the neighbourhood, were beginning to show an interest in Jesus, and to follow Him about. To explain the number Elsner suggests that they may have gathered from various port towns along the shore. Jesus would not meet such people in the synagogue, as they seem to have been excluded from it (vide Lightfoot and Wünsche, ad Matthew 18:17). Hence the necessity for a special mission.

15. sat at meat] It is St Luke who tells us that St Matthew made, “great feast” in honour of his new Master (Luke 5:29), and to it, perhaps by way of farewell, he invited many of his old associates. This shews that he had made large sacrifices in order to follow Christ; see Neander’s Life of Christ, p. 230.

publicans and sinners] The “publicans” properly so called were persons who farmed the Roman taxes and in later times were usually Roman knights and men of wealth and position. Those here alluded to were the inferior officers, natives of the province where the taxes were collected, called properly portitores. So notorious were they for rapacity and dishonesty that Suetonius (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 Jews included them in the same category with harlots and sinners; see Matthew 21:31-32; Matthew 18:17. Observe that in his Gospel St Matthew alone styles himself in the list of the Apostles “the publican.”

Mark 2:15.[18] Ἦσαν γὰρ, for they were) The Evangelist hereby explains why he had just written, with Jesus and His disciples; for they were many.

[18] Λευῒν Levi) called also Matthew.—V. g.

Verse 15. - And it came to pass - ἐγένετο seems the best reading - as he was sitting at meat in his house. This was the house of Matthew. St. Matthew (Matthew 9:10) modestly says, "in the house," keeping himself as much as possible in the background. St. Luke, with greater fullness, says (Luke 5:29) that "Levi made him a great feast in his house." From this it appears that Matthew at once marked the occasion of his call by inviting his associates, publicans and sinners, that they too, being won by the example and teaching of Christ, might be led in like manner to follow him. Good is ever diffusive of itself; and Christian love prompts those who have experienced the love of Christ to draw others to the same fountain of mercy. We find publicans and sinners constantly associated together; for, although there is nothing necessarily unlawful in the office of a tax-gatherer, yet, since men frequently followed that calling because it offered the opportunity for fraud and extortion, hence the "publicans" were, generally speaking, odious to the Jews, and regarded as nothing better than "sinners." More-over the Jews of old maintained that they were Abraham's seed, and protested that as a people dedicated to God, they ought not to be subject to the Romans, who were Gentiles and idolaters. They considered that it was contrary to the liberty and dignity of the children of God that they should pay tribute to them, a view which increased their prejudice against the tax-gatherers. And indeed this was one main cause of the rebellion of the Jews, which led finally to their overthrow by Titus and Vespasian. Mark 2:15His house

Levi's. See Luke 5:29.

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