Matthew 9:2
And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said to the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; your sins be forgiven you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) Behold, they brought to him.—From the other Gospels we learn:—(1) That He was teaching (Luke 5:17) in a house (apparently, from what follows, from the upper room of a house), while the people stood listening in the courtyard. (2) That the court-yard was crowded, so that even the gateway leading into the street was filled (Mark 2:2). (3) That among the hearers were Pharisees and Doctors of the Law, who had come, not only from “every village of Galilee and Judæa,” but also “from Jerusalem.” The last fact is important as one of the few traces in the first three Gospels of an unrecorded ministry in Jerusalem, and, as will be seen, throws light on much that follows. They had apparently come to see how the new Teacher, who had so startled them at Jerusalem, was carrying on His work in Galilee, and, as far as they could, to hinder it. (4) That “the power of the Lord was present to heal them” (Luke 5:17), i.e., that as He taught, the sick were brought to Him, and, either by word or touch, were cured.

A man sick of the palsy.—St. Matthew and St. Mark use the popular term “paralytic;” St. Luke, with perhaps more technical precision, the participle of the verb, “who was paralysed.” The man was borne on a couch (St. Mark uses the Greek form of the Latin grabatum, the bed or mattress of the poor) carried by four bearers (Mark 2:3). They sought to bring him through the door, but were hindered by the crowd; and then going outside the house, they got upon the roof, removed part of the roof (the light structure of Eastern houses made the work comparatively easy), let him down with ropes through the opening into the midst of the crowd, just in front of the Teacher (Mark 2:4; Luke 5:19). This persistency implied faith in His power to heal on the part both of the sick man and the bearers.

Son, be of good cheer.—Better, child. The word implies, perhaps (as in Luke 2:48), comparative youth, or, it may be, a fatherly tone of love and pity on the part of the speaker. Here, as elsewhere, pity is the starting-point of our Lord’s work of healing, and He looked with infinite tenderness on the dejected expression of the sufferer, who had lost heart and hope.

Thy sins be forgiven thee.—The English is to modern ears ambiguous, and suggests the thought of a prayer or wish. The Greek is, however, either the present or the perfect passive of the indicative, “Thy sins are” or “have been forgiven thee.” The words were addressed, we must believe, to the secret yearnings of the sufferer. Sickness had made him conscious of the burden of his sins, perhaps had come (as such forms of nervous exhaustion often do come) as the direct consequence of his sin. The Healer saw that the disease of the soul must first be removed, and that then would come the time for restoring strength to the body.

9:1-8 The faith of the friends of the paralytic in bringing him to Christ, was a strong faith; they firmly believed that Jesus Christ both could and would heal him. A strong faith regards no obstacles in pressing after Christ. It was a humble faith; they brought him to attend on Christ. It was an active faith. Sin may be pardoned, yet the sickness not be removed; the sickness may be removed, yet the sin not pardoned: but if we have the comfort of peace with God, with the comfort of recovery from sickness, this makes the healing a mercy indeed. This is no encouragement to sin. If thou bring thy sins to Jesus Christ, as thy malady and misery to be cured of, and delivered from, it is well; but to come with them, as thy darlings and delight, thinking still to retain them and receive him, is a gross mistake, a miserable delusion. The great intention of the blessed Jesus in the redemption he wrought, is to separate our hearts from sin. Our Lord Jesus has perfect knowledge of all that we say within ourselves. There is a great deal of evil in sinful thoughts, which is very offensive to the Lord Jesus. Christ designed to show that his great errand to the world was, to save his people from their sins. He turned from disputing with the scribes, and spake healing to the sick man. Not only he had no more need to be carried upon his bed, but he had strength to carry it. God must be glorified in all the power that is given to do good.A man sick of the palsy - See the notes at Matthew 4:24.

Lying on a bed - This was probably a mattress, or perhaps a mere blanket spread to lie on, so as to be easily borne. Being light, Jesus might with propriety command him to take it up and walk, Matthew 9:6.

Mark says "they uncovered the roof," Mark 2:4. Luke says "they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling," Luke 5:19. To us it would appear that much injury must have been done to the house where Jesus was, and that they must be much incommoded by the removal of tiles and rafters, etc. An acquaintance, however, with the mode of building in the East removes every difficulty of this nature. Houses in Eastern countries are commonly square in their form, and of a single story. On approaching them from the street a single door is seen in the center, and usually, directly above it, a single latticed window. This destitution of doors and lights from the streets, though it gives their dwellings a sombre appearance, is yet adapted to the habits of retirement and secrecy among the people of the East, where they are desirous of keeping their "females" from observation. See the notes at Matthew 6:6. On entering the only door in front, the first room is a small square room, surrounded with benches, called the "porch." In this room the master of the family commonly transacts business, and on private occasions receives visits. Passing through the porch, you enter a large square room directly in the center of the building, called the court. Luke says that the "paralytic" was let down "into the midst;" not in the midst of the "people," but of the "building" - the "middle place" of the house. This "court" is paved commonly with marble; and, if possible, a fountain of water is formed in the center, to give it beauty, and to diffuse a grateful coolness. This room is surrounded by a gallery or covered walk on every side. From that covered walk doors open into the other apartments of the house.

This center room, or court, is commonly uncovered or open above. In wet weather, however, and in times of great heat of the sun, it is covered with an awning or canvas, stretched on cords and capable of being easily removed or rolled up. This is what Mark means when he says "they uncovered the roof." They "rolled up" or removed this awning.

From the court to the roof the ascent is by flights of stairs, either in the covered walk or gallery or in the porch. The roof is nearly flat. It is made of earth; or, in houses of the rich, is a firmly; constructed flooring, made of coals, chalk, gypsum, and ashes, made hard by repeated blows. On those roofs spears of grass. wheat, or barley sometimes spring up; but these are soon withered by the sun, Psalm 129:6-8. The roof is a favourite place for walking, for repose in the cool of the day, for conversation, and for devotion. See the notes at Matthew 6:6. On such a roof Rahab concealed the spies Joshua 2:6, Samuel talked with Saul 1 Samuel 9:25, David walked at eventide 2 Samuel 11:2), and Peter went up to pray Acts 10:9. This roof was surrounded with a "balustrade," or railing, breast-high, on the sides; but where a house was contiguous to another, and of the same height, the railing was lower, so as to walk from one roof to another. In cities where the houses were constructed in this manner, it was possible to walk through a considerable part of the city on the roofs. A breastwork or railing was of course built in the same manner around the "open space" in the center, to prevent persons from falling into the court below. This railing, or breastwork, is what Luke Luk 5:19 says they let him down through. They removed it, probably, so that the couch could be conveniently let down with cords; and, standing on the roof "over" the Saviour, they let the man down directly before him. The perseverance they had manifested was the evidence of their faith or confidence in his power to heal the sick man.

Be of good cheer: thy sins be forgiven thee - It may seem remarkable, since the man came only to be "healed," that Jesus should have first declared his sins forgiven. For this the following reasons may be suggested:

1. The man might have brought on this disease of the palsy by a long course of vicious indulgence. Conscious of guilt, he may have feared that he was so great a sinner that Christ would not regard him. He therefore assured him that his offences were pardoned, and that he might lay aside his fears.

2. Jesus might be willing to show his power to forgive sins. Had he stated it without any miracle, the Jews would not have believed it, and even his disciples might have been staggered. In proof of it, he worked a miracle; and no one, therefore, could doubt that he had the power. The miracle was performed in "express attestation" of the assertion that he had power to forgive sins. As God would not work a miracle to confirm a falsehood or to deceive people, the miracle was a solemn confirmation, on the part of God, that Jesus had the power to forgive sins.

3. The Jews regarded disease as the effect of sin, John 9:2; James 5:14-15. There is a "real" connection between sin and suffering, as in the case of gluttony, intemperate drinking, lewdness, debauchery. Jesus might be willing to direct the minds of the spectators "to this fact;" and, by pointing them to a manifest instance of the effect of sin, to lead them to hate and forsake it. Diseases are sometimes the direct judgment of God for sin, 1 Corinthians 5:3-5; 1 Corinthians 11:30; 2 Samuel 24:10-14. This truth, also, Christ might have been desirous of impressing on the people.

CHAPTER 9

Mt 9:1-8. Healing of a Paralytic. ( = Mr 2:1-12; Lu 5:17-26).

This incident appears to follow next in order of time to the cure of the leper (Mt 8:1-4). For the exposition, see on [1239]Mr 2:1-12.

The history of this miracle is reported by Mark 2:3-12; by Luke, Luke 5:18-26; by both with more circumstances than Matthew doth report it. Mark saith, He entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was not room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. And they came unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. 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. When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee, Mark 2:1-5. Luke mentions not the place, nor our Saviour’s being preaching, but saith, And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in, they went upon the house top, and let him down through the thing with his couch into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee, Luke 5:18-20. All interpreters agree it to be the same history. Mark, in his preface to the report of the miracle, tells us where Christ was, viz. in Capernaum; what he was doing, preaching the word; the occasion of the people breaking up the roof of the house, viz. the press of the people, so as they could not come nigh to Christ. All three evangelists agree the sick man’s disease to be the palsy, which being the resolution of the nerves, besides the pain that attends it, debilitates the person, and confines him to his bed, or couch, which was the reason of his being brought in his bed, and by four men. All the evangelists mention Jesus seeing their faith, their inward persuasion of his Divine power, and their confidence in his goodness, both the faith of the sick person and of those who brought him. He saw it in their hearts, for the inward principles and habits are not visible to us, yet they are seen and known to him who searcheth the heart, and knoweth what is in the heart of man. He saw it in the fruits, their endeavouring to lay him before Christ. He said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee. But what was this to his palsy? Our Saviour by this lets him, and those who brought him, know,

1. That sin is the root from which our evils spring.

2. That being forgiven, bodily distempers (how fatal soever) can do a man no hurt.

3. That his primary end of coming into the world was to save his people from their sins.

4. That in the hour wherein remission of sins is granted to a soul, it becomes God’s son, dear to Christ.

5. That remission of sins followeth the exercise of faith in Christ.

6. Possibly he begins with this to give the scribes and Pharisees occasion of some discourse. And behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy,.... That is, some of the inhabitants of Capernaum, four men of that city particularly; for Mark says, Mark 2:3 he "was borne of four": these brought him to Jesus,

lying on a bed, or couch, he being so enfeebled by the disease upon him, his nerves so weak, and the members of his body in such a tremor, that he was not able to walk himself, nor even to be carried by others in any other way than this.

And Jesus seeing their faith; the faith of the bearers of him, his friends, who brought out a man to be healed, who was otherwise incurable; and though they could not, for the multitude, bring him directly to Christ, they were not discouraged, but took the pains to carry him to the top of the house, and there let him down through the roof, or tiling; as both Mark and Luke say; and then set him down before him, believing he was able to cure him: moreover, Christ took notice not only of their faith, but of the sick man's too, who suffered himself to be brought out in this condition, and was contented to go through so much fatigue and trouble, to get at him; when he

said unto the sick of the palsy, son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee. He calls him son, either meaning by it no more than "man"; see Luke 5:20 or using it as a kind, tender, and endearing appellation; or as considering him in the grace of adoption, as one that God had put among the children, had given to him as such, and whom he should bring to glory. He bids him "be of good cheer", whose animal spirits were fainting through the disease that was upon him, and the fatigue he had underwent in being brought to him; and his soul more distressed and dejected, under a sense of his sins and transgressions; which Jesus knowing, very pertinently says, "thy sins be forgiven thee"; than which, nothing could be more cheering and reviving to him: or Christ says this to show, that sin was the cause of the disease and affliction that were upon him, for , "there are no chastisements without sin", as the Jews say (f); and that the cause being removed, the effects would cease; of both which he might be assured, and therefore had good reason to cheer up, and be of good heart. This was a wonderful instance of the grace of Christ, to bestow a blessing unasked, and that of the greatest moment and importance.

(f) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 55. 1. Midrash Hohelet, fol. 70. 4. Tzeror. Hammor, fol. 99. 1.

And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus {b} seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

(b) Knowing by a manifest sign.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 9:2-3. Αὐτῶν] the paralytic, and those who were carrying him.

τέκνον] affectionately; Mark 2:5; Mark 10:24; Luke 16:25, and elsewhere. Comp. θύγατερ, Matthew 9:22.

ἀφέωνται] are forgiven; Doric (Suidas), not an Attic (Etym. M.) form of the perf. ind. pass.; Herod, ii. 165, ἀνέωνται,[437] with ἀνεῖνται (so Bähr), however, as a different reading; Winer, p. 77 [E. T. 96]; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 42 [E. T. 49]. Beza correctly observes, that in the perf. is “emphasis minime negligenda.” The view that Christ’s words imply an accommodation to the belief of the Jews, and also of the paralytic himself, that diseases are inflicted by way of punishment for sins, is all the more to be rejected that Jesus elsewhere (John 9:3; Luke 13:1) contradicts this belief. He saw into the moral condition of the sick man, precisely as afterwards, Matthew 9:4, He read the thoughts of the scribes (John 5:14; John 2:25), and knew how it came that this paralysis was really the punishment of his special sins (probably of sensuality). Accordingly, he first of all pronounces forgiveness, as being the moral condition necessary to the healing of the body (not in order to help the effect upon the physical system by the use of healing psychical agency, Krabbe), and then, having by forgiveness removed the hindrance, He proceeds to impart that healing itself by an exercise of His supernatural power.

εἶπον ἐν ἑαυτ.] as in Matthew 3:9.

ΒΛΑΣΦΗΜ.] through the assumption of divine authority (Exodus 34:7; comp. with Matthew 20:5 f.). He thereby appeared to be depriving God of the honour that belongs to Him, and to be transferring it to Himself; for they did not ascribe to Him any prophetic authority to speak in the name of God.

[437] See also Phavorinus, p. 330, 49, and Göttling, Lehre vom Accent. p. 82; Ahrens, Dial. Dor. p. 344; Giese, Dor. Dial. p. 334 f.Matthew 9:2. καὶ ἰδοὺ: usual formula for introducing an important incident.—προσέφερον, the imperfect, implying a process, the details of which, extremely interesting, the evangelist does not give. By comparison with Mark and Luke the narrative is meagre, and defective even for the purpose of bringing out the features to which the evangelist attaches importance, e.g., the value set by Jesus on the faith evinced. His eye is fixed on the one outstanding novel feature, the word of Jesus in Matthew 9:6. In view of it he is careful, while omitting much, to mention that the invalid in this instance was brought to Jesus, ἐπὶ κλίνης βεβλημένον, lying on a couch. To the same cause also it is due that a second case of paralysis cured finds a place in this collection, though the two cases have different features: in the one physical torments, in the other mental depression.—πίστιν αὐτῶν, the faith of the men who had brought the sick man to Him. The common assumption that the sick man is included in the αὐτῶν is based on dogmatic grounds.—θάρσει τέκνον: with swift sure diagnosis Jesus sees in the man not faith but deep depression, associated probably with sad memories of misconduct, and uttering first a kindly hope-inspiring word, such as a physician might address to a patient: cheer up, child! He deals first with the disease of the soul.—ἀφίενται: Jesus declares the forgiveness of his sins, not with the authority of an exceptional person, but with sympathy and insight, as the interpreter of God’s will and the law of the universe. That law is that past error need not be a doom; that we may take pardon for granted; forgive ourselves, and start anew. The law holds, Jesus believed, both in the physical and in the moral sphere. In combining pardon with healing of bodily disease in this case, He was virtually announcing a general law. “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases,” Psalm 103:3.2. sick of the palsy] not “grievously tormented” (see ch. Matthew 8:6), therefore suffering from a less severe type of paralysis.

lying] The same word and tense translated “laid,” ch. Matthew 8:6, where see note.

their faith] The faith of those who brought him, as well as his own. Cp. Mark 9:23-24.

Son, be of good cheer] Bengel infers from this that the sufferer was a young man.

thy sins be forgiven thee] Translate, have been forgiven thee. Christ assigns sin as the cause of this paralytic seizure. Paralysis is not uncommonly the result of sinful indulgence.

2–6. When Jesus said “Thy sins have been forgiven thee” the young man did not immediately rise (see Matthew 9:7). Instantly the scribes thought with a sneer “this fellow blasphemes,” i. e. pretends to a divine power which he does not possess. They said in their hearts it is easy to say, “Thy sins have been forgiven,” let him say, “Arise, and walk,” then we shall discover his blasphemy. Jesus answers their thoughts. His words are not “whether,” as in E. V., but “why is it easier to say, Thy sins have been forgiven thee, than to say, Arise, and walk?” In truth it was not easier to say “Thy sins have been forgiven” as Jesus says those words, for to say them implied the cure of soul and of body too; but in order to convince the Scribes of His power He adds the words, “Arise, and walk;” and implicitly bids them infer that the inner work of forgiveness had as surely followed the first words as the outward and visible result followed the command to rise and walk.Matthew 9:2. Προσέφερον Αὐτῷ, they brought to Him) Many such offerings were made to the Saviour, and they were pleasing to Him.—τὴν πίστιν αὐτῶν, their faith) i.e. of him who was borne, and of them who bare him.—θάρσει, τέκνον, Son, be of good cheer[391]) “Neither thy sins nor thy disease shall stand in thy way.” Thus, at Matthew 9:22, θάρσει, θύγατερ, daughter, be of good comfort. “Be of good comfort;” neither thy sins shall prevail against thee, nor thy disease. Thus also, “Be of good comfort, daughter,” in Matthew 9:22.—ἀφέωνταί σοι, are forgiven thee) Without doubt, great was the sense of great sins in that man.[392]—σοὶ has here both emphasis and accent, but in Matthew 9:5 the same words are repeated after the manner of a quotation, and ΣΟΙ or ΣΟΥ is enclitic.[393]

[391] The word used by Bengel is “confide”, which is repeated each time in the remarks which follow.—(I. B.)

[392] This was the principal benefit, by occasion of which chiefly the thoughts of the men present there were thrown open and made manifest, Matthew 9:3; Matthew 9:8.—Harm. p. 276.

[393] Never had that voice been heard put forth in this way, from the time that the earth had borne men on it.—V. g.Verse 2. - And, behold, they brought to him (προσέφερον αὐτῷ). Bengel's remark, "Offerebant - Tales oblationes factae sunt Salvatori plurimae, gratae," though very beautiful, is, from its undue insistence on the sacrificial use of προσφέρω, hardly exegesis. Matthew omits the difficulty that was experienced in bringing him to our Lord (see parallel passages), yet this alone accounts for the special commendation of their faith. A man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed. Probably a mat or quilt (ver. 6). Professor Marshall, in the Expositor for March, 1891, p. 215, has a most interesting note showing that the differences between "lying on a bed" (Matthew)and "carried by four" (Mark), and even "they sought to bring him in, and to place him before him" (Luke, who has already mentioned "on a bed" ), may be explained by being different translations of an original Aramaic sentence. And Jesus seeing their faith. Including that of the paralytic, who, as we may gather from the obedience he afterwards shows, had agreed to and had encouraged the special efforts of his bearers. Said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer (Θάρσει τέκνον). Son. So Mark, but Luke has "man" (ἄνθρωπε), which, though more usual in Greek (though still Hebraic, for ἀνέρ would have been in accordance with classical usage), is much more colourless. Τέκνον, as a term of address, is elsewhere in the New Testament used only where there is relationship physical (Matthew 21:28; Luke 2:48; Luke 15:31; even Luke 16:25) or moral, especially that of pupil and teacher (Mark 10:24; cf 1 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 2:1). It therefore implies that there is both sympathy and much common ground between the speaker and him whom he addresses. It is the antithesis of Matthew 8:29 (cf. further, infra, ver. 22). Thus it here served affectionately to encourage the sufferer in soul and body, preparing him to receive the announcement following. Matthew emphasizes its purpose by prefixing θάρσει. Thy sins be; Revised Version, are; expressing clearly that the words are the statement of a fact, not merely the expression of a command. Forgiven thee; Revised Version omits "thee" (genuine in Luke), with manuscripts (ἀφίενταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι). Matthew and Mark use the present of general statement, Luke the perfect (ἀφέωνται, Doric; Winer, 14:3. a), to express a past fact of permanent significance. Observe the order of the Lord's assurance, as recorded in the true text. Courage, sympathy, forgiveness, and, only after all else, recalling individual sins. As the assurance of forgiveness is delightful to the soul, so is it often helpful to the body. Hence possibly our Lord's method in this case, for the man "inter spem metumque dubius pendebat" (Wetstein). Compare for the conjunction of the two, James 5:15, and, as a still closer parallel to our passage, Talm. Bab., 'Nedarim,' 41a. "R. Hija bar Abba said, The sick doth not recover from his sickness until all his sins be forgiven him, for it is said, 'Who pardoneth all thy iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases.'" So also Qimbi (on Psalm 41:5, "Heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee" ): "He does not say, Heal my body," for it is his sins that are the cause of his sickness, but if God heal his soul from its sickness, viz. by making atonement for his sins, then his body is healed."
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