Matthew 9:1-8

9.1 Καὶ ἐμβὰς εἰς πλοῖον διεπέρασεν, καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς τὴν ἰδίαν πόλιν.

9.2 Καὶ ἰδοὺ προσέφερον αὐτῷ παραλυτικὸν ἐπὶ κλίνης βεβλημένον. καὶ ἰδὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὴν πίστιν αὐτῶν εἶπεν τῷ παραλυτικῷ θάρσει, τέκνον, ἀφίενταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι. 9.3 καὶ ἰδού τινες τῶν γραμματέων εἶπαν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς· οὗτος βλασφημεῖ. 9.4 καὶ εἰδὼς ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὰς ἐνθυμήσεις αὐτῶν εἶπεν· ἱνατί ἐνθυμεῖσθε πονηρὰ ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν; 9.5 τί γάρ ἐστιν εὐκοπώτερον, εἰπεῖν· ἀφίενταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι, ἢ εἰπεῖν· ἔγειρε καὶ περιπάτει; 9.6 ἵνα δὲ εἰδῆτε ὅτι ἐξουσίαν ἔχει ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἀφιέναι ἁμαρτίας τότε λέγει τῷ παραλυτικῷ· ἔγειρε ἆρόν σου τὴν κλίνην καὶ ὕπαγε εἰς τὸν οἶκόν σου. 9.7 καὶ ἐγερθεὶς ἀπῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ. 9.8 ἰδόντες δὲ οἱ ὄχλοι ἐφοβήθησαν καὶ ἐδόξασαν τὸν θεὸν τὸν δόντα ἐξουσίαν τοιαύτην τοῖς ἀνθρώποις.

9.1 And getting in the boat he crossed over, and came into his own city.

9.2 And some men brought a paralytic laid on a mat. And seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Cheer up, child, your sins are forgiven.” 9.3 Of course, some of the scribes said among themselves, “This man blasphemes.”  9.4 And perceiving their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why are you thinking evil things in your hearts?  9.5 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk.’? 9.6 But in order that you may know that the son of man has authority on the earth to forgive sins…” Then he said to the paralytic, “Rise, pick up your mat and go to your house.”  9.7 And rising, he went to his house. 9.8 And the crowds, seeing, were afraid and glorified God, the one giving such authority to men.

Comments

Verse 9:1 leads off with much of the grammar from verse 8:23. The only difference is in forms. 8:23 has the participle with an article – both in the dative. In verse 9:1, the participle stands alone in the nominative. In both, the expression εἰς … πλοῖον, “into … boat”, is found, however the article is also to be found in verse 8:23, where it is not in 9:1. This could be nothing more than one trying to be definite about the boat, and the other general. At least in English, we tend to use “the” to speak of something already mentioned, something we are aware of. We wouldn’t mention “the” boat until the boat had been mentioned. In 8:23, the use of the article comes out of nowhere. Maybe it is the fact that after verse 8:23, the actions all concern the boat – the activities take part on the boat. Verse 9:1 is merely a transition to the next scene, which does not concern a boat at all. Any thoughts?

I am guessing “his own city” refers to Capernaum, mentioned earlier in Matthew 4:13. Or is there some other suggested site? I googled for info, but found nothing to suggest otherwise.

In 9:2, I found it difficult to put the subject in English. No subject is present, instead the sentence relies on the verbal form to identify plurality. Placing “They” as the subject seems too specific coming out of nowhere. “Some men” is a little more wordy, but is non-specific much like the verb form, about the subject. Later in this verse these men will be referred to again with the phrase τὴν πίστιν αὐτῶν, “the faith of them”. I went looking for the meaning of κλίνη “a small bed, a couch” online, which I assumed was not the queen-size mattress I am used to. I found some interesting discussion here, in a post discussing the directionality of Mark 2:3 and its variants here and in Luke 5:18. These indicated that the indistinct nature of the men here is contrasted in Mark by a specific mention of four who carried the paralytic (as well as the whole roof scene, not mentioned in Matthew).

In addition, the article brought up some interesting points about κλίνη, a slightly different rendering than that found in Mark, κράβαττος, “a pallet, camp bed”. κράβαττος seems to be a word more indicative of poverty, and may have been changed when it came to Matthew’s writing of the event. The use of τέκνον, “son, child, servant” here by Jesus, in reference to the paralytic, likely demonstrates his compassion for a man who has been struggling under the weight of guilt and his physical affliction.

In 9:4, the text remarks εἰδὼς ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὰς ἐνθυμήσεις αὐτῶν, “seeing/knowing their thoughts…” The KJV renders this and even ἐν ἑαυτοῖς, “in/among themselves” in such a way that it forces Jesus to be a mind reader, or to be using godly prerogative to delve the thoughts of these men. The NIV’s “knowing” is less specific. But in reviewing the range of meaning in εἶδον, it allows for seeing, knowing, experiencing or perceiving. Now, it is quite true that one cannot literally “see thoughts”. But I don’t see any reason to read this as Jesus getting in their minds, or doing something that we do not do on a daily basis. Jesus heard the mumbling, saw the whispering or muttering, maybe even recognized hand gestures or facial expressions. He perceived what was going on. Based on what he had just said to the paralytic, he knew what they were thinking as well as if they had voiced it aloud.

Then again, Jesus’ response of, “Why do you think such evil things in your hearts?” might lead one to give another thought to the idea of Jesus doing more than just reading the body language. But I could still see Jesus giving this response either way, since their negative reaction in light of his statement to the paralytic begs for them thinking poorly of him, negatively of what he has just done. Reminds one of the Matthew 12:31 where the reader is warned not to blaspheme the Holy Spirit by claiming God’s work is that of evil spirits or the devil.

Certainly, feel free to share any thoughts you have in regards to this…

Taking 9:4-6 together rather than verse by verse makes me wonder about the logical flow. First, Jesus question their evil thoughts, then queries them whether it is easier, to say, “You are forgiven,” than to actually heal. Seems an odd question, “Which is easier?” Certainly not the question you might expect from someone trying to justify their behavior or defend themselves. Sounds much more like the words of someone who is trying to point out that someone else is over-reacting. Something along these lines: “I was doing the simple thing, trying to comfort this man. But if that isn’t good enough for you…”

And how easy is forgiveness? It certainly is not our natural response when wronged or hurt. But it is easier to say someone is forgiven than it is to actually heal them, apart from God’s power! The scribes challenged Jesus’ authority. Jesus challenged their calloused understanding of what was happening in this situation. By healing this man, Jesus also declares that his words are not just comfort and fluff, but powerful and effective. The man’s healing proved that Jesus spoke truly, and that this man was forgiven.

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About George

I'm interested in theology, languages, translation and various sorts of fermentation.
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