Matthew 9:3
And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemes.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) This man blasphemeth.—The words were but an echo of the charge that had been brought at Jerusalem, that “He made Himself equal with God” (John 5:18), and may well have come from some of the same objectors. St. Mark and St. Luke give the grounds of their accusation: “What is this that this Man thus speaks? Who can forgive sins but One, that is, God?” Speaking abstractedly, they were affirming one of the first principles of all true religious belief. All sins are offences against God, and therefore, though men may forgive trespasses as far as they themselves are concerned, the ultimate act of forgiveness belongs to God only; and for a mere man, as such, to claim the right of forgiving thus absolutely, was to claim a divine attribute, and therefore to blaspheme—i.e., to utter words as disparaging as open profaneness to the majesty of God. What they forgot to take into account was the possibility (1) that God might so far delegate His power to His chosen servants that they, on sufficient evidence of that delegation, might rightly declare sins to be forgiven; or (2) that the Teacher might Himself be one with God, and so share in His perfections and prerogatives. On either of these suppositions the charge of blasphemy was fully answered, and the sin of the scribes lay in their ignoring the fact that He had given sufficient proof of the former, if not of the latter also.

Matthew 9:3-8. Behold, certain of the scribes, (Luke adds, and Pharisees,) said within themselves — That is, in their hearts, This man blasphemeth — Attributing to himself a power (that of forgiving sins) which belongs to God only. And Jesus, knowing their thoughts, which, it appears, they did not openly declare, (for Mark says, Mark 2:8, He perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves,) said: Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts — Namely, concerning me, on account of these words which I have spoken? For whether is easier, &c. — Do not both of them argue a divine power? Therefore: if I can heal his disease, I can forgive his sins, especially as his disease is the consequence of his sins, therefore these must be taken away, if that is. But that ye may know — May have evident proof, that the Son of man hath power on earth — Even in his state of humiliation, to forgive sins; then (turning from them) he saith to the sick of the palsy, Arise, &c., and he arose — Thus Jesus gave the Pharisees a twofold demonstration of his divinity: 1st, by showing that he knew their thoughts; for to search the hearts and know the thoughts of mankind is not in the power either of men or angels, but is the prerogative of God only; 2dly, by assuming to himself, and manifesting undeniably, that he possessed power to forgive sins. But when the multitude saw it, they marvelled — They were all amazed, says Mark, and glorified God, &c. — So, what was to the scribes an occasion of blaspheming, was to the people an incitement to praise God.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.This man blasphemeth - The word "blaspheme" originally means to speak evil of anyone; to injure by words; to blame unjustly. When applied to God, it means to speak of him unjustly; to ascribe to him acts and attributes which he does not possess; or to speak impiously or profanely. It also means to say or do anything by which his name or honor is insulted, or which conveys an "impression" unfavourable to God. It means. also, to attempt to do, or say a thing, which belongs to him alone, or which he only can do. This is its meaning here. Christ was charged "with saying a thing in his own name, or attempting to do a thing, which properly belonged to God;" thus assuming the place of God, and doing him injury, as the scribes supposed, by an invasion of his prerogatives. "None," said they (see Mark and Luke), "can forgive sins but God only." In this they reasoned correctly. See Isaiah 43:25; Isaiah 44:22. None of the prophets had this power; and by saying that "he forgave sins," Jesus was understood to affirm that he was divine; and as he proved this by working a miracle expressly to confirm the claim, it follows that he is divine, or equal with the Father. 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.

Mark saith, There were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only? Mark 2:6,7. Luke saith, The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? Luke 5:21. It should seem they did not speak it out. Mark saith, they reasoned in their hearts. Matthew in the next verse saith,

Jesus, knowing their thoughts. It seemeth that it was then agreed on all hands, that forgiving of sins was the prerogative of God alone; and that for man to arrogate to himself such a power as belonged to God alone was no less than blasphemy, as all ascribings of Divine perfections to creatures must be. It stands the pope and priests in hand to clear themselves from this guilt. It was also agreed by the scribes and Pharisees, that Christ spake blasphemy in pronouncing to the sick of the palsy, that his sins were forgiven. The reason was, because they did not believe him to be the Son of God, but looked on him as mere man. And behold, certain of the Scribes said within themselves,.... And of the Pharisees also, as Luke says; for there were at this time Pharisees and doctors of the law, who were come out of every town of Galilee and Judea, and out of Jerusalem, sitting and hearing him teach, and observing what he said, and did; who upon hearing him pronounce the sentence of pardon, upon this "paralytic" man, reasoned and concluded in their own minds, though they did not care to speak it out, that

this man blasphemeth: the reason was, because they thought he ascribed that to himself, which was peculiar to God: and so he did, and yet did not blaspheme; because he himself was God, of which he quickly gave convincing proofs.

And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man {c} blasphemeth.

(c) To blaspheme, signifies among the divines, to speak wickedly: and among the more eloquent Greeks, to slander.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 9:3. τινὲς τ. γραμματέων: some scribes present on this occasion. Ominous fact duly introduced by ἰδοὺ; its significance still more distinctly recognised by Luke, who gives it prominent mention at the beginning of his narrative (Matthew 9:17). Sure sign of the extent, depth, and quality of Christ’s influence.—βλασφημεῖ: of course; the prophet always is a scandalous, irreverent blasphemer from the conventional point of view. The scribes regarded forgiveness purely under the aspect of prerogative, and in self-defence Jesus must meet them on their own ground. His answer covers the whole case. There is more than prerogative in the matter; there is the right, duty, privilege, and power of every man to promote faith in pardon by hearty proclamation of the law of the moral world. This is dealt with first.Matthew 9:3. εἶπον ἐν ἑαυτοῖς, οὗτος βλασφημεῖ, said within themselves, this man blasphemeth) Blasphemy is committed when (1.) things unworthy of God are attributed to Him; (2.) things worthy of God are denied to Him; (3.) when the incommunicable attributes of God are attributed to others.Verse 3. - And certain of the scribes. From St. Luke's account (ver. 17) we learn that the miracle took place before a large assembly of "Pharisees and teachers of the Law, who had come out of every village of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem." 'Yet even among these there was a division (τινές). Said within themselves. So Mark, "reasoning in their hearts." This man (οῦτος). The word seems to convey a notion of contempt and of vindictive joy that they have caught him (cf. Mark, τί οῦτος οὕτως λαλεῖ; and perhaps Matthew 12:24). Blasphemeth (βλασφημεῖ). In its fullest meaning; through assumption of Divine authority (so also Matthew 26:65; John 10:33, 36). "No passage of the Old Testament affirms that the Messiah himself will forgive sins. Thus Jesus ascribes to himself what even the highest Old Testament prophecies of the Messianic time had reserved to God; e.g. Jeremiah 31:34; Isaiah 43:25" (Kubel). Observe that Mark lays more stress upon the process of their thoughts, Matthew and Luke on the conclusion at which they arrived, Luke also indicating that the supposed sin had many parts (λαλεῖ βλασφημίας) - they thought, "Every word he has uttered is blasphemy."
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