Matthew 9:6
But that you may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins, (then said he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) That ye may know that the Son of man hath power.—Better, authority, as in John 5:27. The two passages are so closely parallel that we can hardly be wrong in thinking that the words now spoken were meant to recall those which some, at least, of those who listened had heard before. This view, at any rate, brings out the fulness of their meaning. As they stand here, they seem to include both the two hypotheses mentioned in the Note on Matthew 9:3. The Father had given Him authority to “forgive sins” and to “execute judgment” because He was the Son of Man, the representative of mankind, and as such was exercising a delegated power. But then, that discourse in John 5 showed that He also spoke of Himself as the Son of God as well as the Son of Man (John 5:25), and as such claimed an honour equal to that which was rightly paid to the Father (John 5:23). Ultimately, therefore, our Lord’s answer rests on the higher, and not the lower, of the two grounds on which the objectors might have been met.

Arise, take up thy bed.—As St. Mark gives the words we have the very syllables that had been spoken to the “impotent man” at Bethesda (John 5:8), and in any case words identical in meaning; and the natural inference is that our Lord meant to recall what the scribes from Jerusalem had then seen and heard.

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.But that ye may know ... - That you may have full proof on that point; that you may see that I have power to forgive sin, I will perform an act which all must perceive and admit to require the power of God.

Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine own house - The fact that the paralytic man could do this would prove that a miracle was performed. He was healed by a word; it was done instantaneously; it was done in the most public manner. The fact that a man, just before perfectly helpless, could now take up and carry his own bed or couch, proved that a divine "power" had been exerted; and that fact proved that he who had performed the miracle must also have the "power" and the "authority" to forgive sin. It is proper to add, in illustrating this, that in the East a "bed" is often nothing more than a bolster and a blanket spread on the floor. "The bed provided for me," says Professor Hackett ("Illustrations of Scripture," p. 112) "consisted merely of a bolster and a blanket spread on the floor. The latter could be drawn partially over the body if any one wished, though the expectation seemed to be that we should sleep in our ordinary dress, without any additional covering. Such a bed is obviously a portable one; it is easy to take it up, fold it together, and carry it from place to place, as convenience may require."

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.

Ver. 4-6. Mark repeats almost the same words, Mark 2:8-10. So doth Luke, Luke 5:22-24. Christ here giveth the scribes and Pharisees a demonstration of his Deity, by letting them know that he knew their thoughts, Jesus knowing their thoughts said; a thing not compatible to angels, much less to one who is mere man; yet these blind scribes and Pharisees take no notice of it.

Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts; evil concerning me? I did this, saith he, on purpose to let you know, that I, who am indeed the Son of man, and whom you mistake in thinking to be no more than the Son of man, hath power, while he is upon the earth, and so conversing amongst you, to forgive sins, and you may make suitable applications to him for that end.

It had been as easy for me every whit to have said to this sick man, Arise and walk; and that I will demonstrate to you. Then saith he to the sick of the palsy,

Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. The same power is required to the one as to the other; God, by your confession, can forgive sins, and God alone can raise men from the grave. The end of my miraculous operations is to convince you that I am he who hath a power to forgive men their sins. I therefore chose first to pronounce this man’s sins forgiven, that I might have the advantage to confirm to you by a subsequent miracle this great truth, that I am the Son of God, though you think me no more than the Son of man, and that I have a power to forgive sins upon men’s exercise of their faith and coming unto me. Now therefore believe, not because of my word only, but because of the sign I show you confirmative of it. But that ye may know that the son of man,.... That they might have a visible proof, an ocular demonstration, that though he was the son of man, truly and really man, yet not a mere man; but also as truly and properly God, God and man in one person, and so

hath power on earth to forgive sins: not only ability as God, but even authority to do it as mediator, even whilst he was on earth, in a state of humiliation, in fashion as a man, in the form of a servant, conversing with sinful mortals.

Then saith he to the sick of the palsy; turning himself from the Scribes, unto him, and without putting up any prayer to God, but by a mere word of command, says to him,

arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house: he ordered him to "arise" from his bed, on which he was carried by four men, and "take up his bed", and carry it himself; which would be not only an evidence that the disease had left him, but that he was in full strength, and perfect health; and to "go" to his own "house", not only that the multitude might see that he could walk home himself, whom they had seen brought by others; but that those in the house, who had been eyewitnesses of his great disorder and weakness, might be also of his cure.

But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 9:6-7. Ἐξουσίαν ἔχει] placed near the beginning of the sentence so as to be emphatic: that the Son of man is empowered upon earth (not merely to announce, but) to communicate the forgiveness of sins. ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς does not belong to ἀφ. ἁμ. (Grotius),—in which case its position would convey an awkward emphasis, and the order of the words would naturally be ἀφ. ἁμ. ἐπὶ τ. γῆς (as Marcion read them),—but it is joined to ἐξουσίαν ἔχει in the consciousness of the ἐξουσία brought with Him from heaven. “Coelestem ortum hic sermo sapit,” Bengel.

τότε λέγει τῷ παραλυτ.] is neither to be taken parenthetically, nor is τόδε to be understood (Fritzsche), in order to justify the parenthesis; but Matthew’s style is such that no formal apodosis comes after ἁμαρτίας, but rather the call to the paralytic ἐγερθείς, etc. Matthew reports this change in regard to the parties addressed with scrupulous fidelity; and so, after concluding what Jesus says to the scribes with the anacoluthon ἵνα δὲ εἰδῆτεἁμαρτίας, he proceeds to add, in the narrative form, “then He says to the paralytic.” This is a circumstantial simplicity of style which is not to be met with in polished Greek writers, who would have omitted the τότε λέγει τῷ παραλ. altogether as a mere encumbrance. See passages from Demosthenes in Kypke, I. p. 48 f.

καὶ ἐγερθεὶς, κ.τ.λ.] therefore an immediate and complete cure, which does not favour the far-fetched notion that the declaration of Jesus penetrated the nervous system of the paralytic as with an electric current (Schenkel).Matthew 9:6. ἵνα δὲ εἰδῆτε: transition to the other aspect, that of ἐξουσία, the point raised by the scribes when they looked a charge of blasphemy.—ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀν., ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς: these two phrases point at supposed disabilities for forgiving. “Forgiveness takes place in heaven, and is the exclusive prerogative of God,” was the thesis of the scribes. “It may be exercised even on earth, and by the Son of Man,” is the counter thesis of Christ. Therefore “Son of Man” must be a title not of dignity but of humiliation. Here = one whom ye think lightly of; even He can forgive.—τότε λέγει. Jesus stops short in His speech to the scribes and turns to the sick man, saying: ἔγειρε, etc., also in Matthew 9:6, intransitive. The reading ἔγειραι in T.R., Matthew 9:6, is a correction of style, the use of the active intransitively being condemned by grammarians. Hence this various reading always occurs. (vide Suidas, s.v., and Buttmann, Gramm., p. 56.)—τὴν κλίνην, a light piece of furniture, easily portable.—ὕπαγε: all three actions, arising, lifting, walking, conclusive evidence of restored power.6. take up thy bed] The Oriental frequently spreads a mat upon the ground and sleeps in the open air, in the morning he rolls up his mat and carries it away.Matthew 9:6. Εἰδῆτε, ye may know) This word also breathes authority.[396]—ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, on earth) This is exclusively the place where sins are committed and remitted. Earth was the scene of Christ’s works from the beginning.[397] See Proverbs 8:31; cf. the two clauses in Psalm 16:3; see[398] Jeremiah 9:24; John 17:4; Luke 2:14. I have, says He, all authority in heaven, much more on earth; see ch. Matthew 16:19, Matthew 28:18.[399] This speech savours of a heavenly origin.—ἐξουσίαν, authority) The argument from power to authority holds good in this passage.—λέγει, He saith) A similar change of person between the protasis and apodosis occurs in Numbers 5:20-21, and Jeremiah 5:14.

[396] Bengel just below translates ἐξουσίαν (rendered in E. V. power) by “authority,” and refers to it by anticipation.—(I. B.)

[397] Nay more, it is the wrestling arena between sin and grace.—V. g.

[398] E. B. inserts here “Genesis 6:5,” which has been adopted by the later editions.—(I. B.)

[399] We also in our turn may now say: Seeing that He had that power, when sojourning on the earth, why should He not also have the same, now that He has been raised from the dead and taken up into heaven? Acts 5:31.—V. g.Verse 6. - But that ye may know. From his authority in the physical world they may have direct knowledge (εἰδῆτε) of his authority in the spiritual world. Observe that the claim is even in the so-called "Triple Tradition." That the Son of man hath power (better, authority, with Revised Version margin, and the American Committee) on earth to forgive sins (ὅτι ἐξουσίαν ἔχει ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἀφιέναι ἁμαρτίας). Observe

(1) that our Lord does not say "I," but "the Son of man" ;

(2) that the emphatic words in the sentence are "hath authority," and "on earth." It would therefore appear as though our Lord wished to call the attention of those present to a phrase which they already knew, but did not rightly understand. He seems to point them to Daniel 7:13, and reminding them that even there "one like unto a son of man" (cf. supra, Matthew 8:20, note) receives authority (ἡ ἐξουσία αὐτοῦ ἐξουσία αἰώνιος, ver. 14), tells them that this authority includes forgiving sins, and that this may be exercised not only in the future and in "the clouds of heaven," but now (ἔχει) and "on earth." Further, if, as seems likely,. the phrase was understood to symbolize the nation, he desired them to see in himself the great means whereby the nation should rise to its ideal. If, as is possible, though hardly probable, this saying of our Lord's is chronologically earlier than Matthew 8:20, and there,-fore the earliest occasion on which he used the phrase, the almost direct reference to Daniel 7:13 makes it the more interesting. (Then saith he to the sick of the palsy). The thought of the sentence is continued, but as he now turns directly to the sick man, its form is altered. Arise, take up. The Revised Version, retaining the wrong reading, ἐγερθείς, inserts "and." Thy bed (ver. 9, note), and go unto thine house. Thus avoiding publicity.
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