The Narrative of Luke

Chapter 5

Blaine Robison, M.A.

Published 31 December 2023; Revised 11 January 2024

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Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. Scripture quotations may be taken from different Bible versions. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.

Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important early Jewish sources include the following:

DSS: the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last three centuries B.C. and the first century A.D. Online: DSS Bible; Vermes.

LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online. The LXX also included the Apocrypha, Jewish works produced from 400 B.C. to A.D. 1. Online.

Josephus: The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.), Jewish historian, trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.

Philo: Works by Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, the Jewish philosopher (20 B.C.─A.D. 50), consisting of 45 monographs. Online.

Targums: Aramaic translation of Hebrew Scripture with commentary: Targum Onkelos (A.D. 80-120), and Targum Jonathan (A.D. 150-250). Index of Targum texts.

Syntax: Unless otherwise noted definition of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and definition of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations.

Special Terms: In order to emphasize the Hebrew and Jewish nature of Scripture I use the terms Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), ADONAI (for YHVH), Torah (Pentateuch, Law), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament).

Dates are from Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings (1992). Online.

Chapter Summary

In Chapter Five Luke continues Yeshua's ministry in Galilee with the report of teaching from Simon's boat at the lake of Gennesaret followed by a miraculous catch of fish. After this incident Simon makes the final commitment to become a devoted disciple of Yeshua. Next comes a report of healing a man with a skin disease after which Yeshua directs the man to honor the instruction of Moses with a sacrifice. News of these miracles increase Yeshua's fame in the region, so he withdraws to the desert to spend time in prayer.

Once again teaching in Capernaum Yeshua is interrupted by four men breaking through the roof to lower a paralyzed man into the midst that he might be healed. Yeshua shocks those present by not only healing the paralysis but also declaring forgiveness of sins. Religious adversaries accused Yeshua of blasphemy but the crowd glorified God. Next Yeshua added another disciple to his followers by calling the tax collector Levi, who then makes a feast for Yeshua, to which he invites a great number of tax collectors and others.

Religious adversaries again criticize Yeshua's conduct, but he reminds them of his mission to call sinners to repentance. Lastly his adversaries challenge Yeshua over the lack of fasting by his disciples. Yeshua responds with a parable about mending a garment and enjoying "new wine" to make the point that new things have come.

Chapter Outline

Call of Fishermen, 5:1-11

Cleansing and Sacrifice, 5:12-16

Reward of Faith and Forgiveness, 5:17-26

Outreach Among Sinners, 5:27-32

Question Regarding Fasting, 5:33-39

Date: Fall, A.D. 27

Call of Fishermen, 5:1-11

1 Now it came to pass with the crowd also pressing on him to hear the word of God, and he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret;

Timeline Note: Santala dates the following narrative in Spring of A.D. 28 (113), but the parallel narratives of Matthew and Mark place the calling of fishermen in close proximity to the beginning of Yeshua's ministry in Capernaum, the first exorcism in the synagogue there, and the healing of Simon's mother-in-law. Therefore, the Fall of A.D. 27 seems the best option. In addition, Luke's detailed narrative reads like an eyewitness account. Matthew (4:18) and Mark (1:16) both mention that Yeshua walked along the shore and saw Simon and Andrew fishing, which apparently preceded the following incident.

Now: Grk. de, conj. used to mark (1) a contrast to a preceding statement, "but;" (2) a transition in narrative or subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connective particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The second usage applies here. it came to pass: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid., to become, which may be expressed in one of three ways: (1) come into existence begin to be, appear or be born; (2) to be made or performed by a person; or (3) equivalent to come to pass or come about. The third meaning applies here.

In the LXX ginomai translates Heb. hayah, to fall out, come to pass, become, be (first in Gen 1:3). The Greek construction egeneto de, which begins this verse, is a peculiar characteristic of Luke's writing style, appearing in the Besekh only in his writings, 17 times in this narrative of Yeshua and 20 times in Acts. This syntax is considered a Hebraism because it imitates the frequent use of the Heb. v'hayah, "and it came to pass" in the historical narratives of the Tanakh. The verb is used to introduce an important event that includes some dramatic action by God or an individual that impacts biblical history or serves God's sovereign planning.

with: Grk. en, prep., with the root meaning of "within," is generally used to mark position; among, at, in, or with (DM 105). the crowd: Grk. ho ochlos, an aggregate of people or an assembled company of people; crowd, multitude, great number. In many passages the term denotes common people in contrast to the ruling classes and religious elite. also: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative; (2) adversative; or (3) intensive (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect.

pressing on: Grk. epikeimai, pres. pass. inf., may mean (1) to lie in superimposed position; or (2) to apply pressure. The second meaning applies here. The verb likely alludes to nearness of physical proximity which motivated Yeshua's action in verse 3. The verb can also have a figurative meaning denoting the expectation of the crowd. him: Grk. autos, an intensive personal pronoun, often used to distinguish a person or thing in contrast to another, or to give him (it) prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here. The pronoun refers to Yeshua rather than mentioning him by name.

to hear: Grk. akouō, pres. inf., to hear aurally or listen, with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173). the word: Grk. ho logos is used primarily for a vocalized expression of the mind, as communication ranging broadly in extent of content and variety of form; word, discourse, message or teaching. In the LXX logos primarily translates Heb. dabar (SH-1697), speech or word, and used widely for a message, speech or saying of men (Gen 29:13; 34:18) or of God (Ex 4:28; 19:7) (DNTT 3:1087).

of God: Grk. ho theos, properly, God, the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Creator and owner of all things (Gen 1:1; John 1:1-3). In the LXX theos translates Hebrew words for God, El, Eloah, and Elohim, as well as the sacred name YHVH (DNTT 2:67-70). YHVH is the personal name of the one only and true God, the God of Israel. In Hebrew thought the plural form of Elohim represents fullness, which excludes the possible existence of any other deity (Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9). See my comment on John 1:1.

The expression "word of God" (for Heb. dabar Elohim) occurs in the Tanakh as a divinely inspired prophetic message to be proclaimed (1Sam 9:27; 1Kgs 12:22; 1Chr 17:3). Usage of the expression could allude to the promise of Moses that God would raise up a prophet like him and proclaim His words (Deut 18:18). In this context the expression could allude to the proclamation of "the good news of the Kingdom of God" (Luke 4:43) or simply a discourse consisting of exposition of Scripture with practical application. However interpreted the "word of God" invariably calls forth an obedient response to action (Luke 8:21; 11:28).

and: Grk. kai. he: Grk. autos. was: Grk. eimi, impf., to be, exist; a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). standing: Grk. histēmi, perf. part., cause to be in a place or position; place, set, stand. by: Grk. para, prep. with the root meaning of beside (DM 108), conveys association between persons, things, or circumstances, which may denote (1) a point of origin, from; or (2) a close association or proximity, with, beside, in the presence of. The second usage applies here.

the lake: Grk. ho limnē, a body of fresh or salt water of considerable size, surrounded by land. "Lake" is a more precise description than "Sea" (Liefeld). Indeed Luke never calls this inland body of water a "sea" and the other narratives never call it a "lake" (Plummer). of Gennesaret: Grk. Gennēsaret (for Heb. Kinnereth), a place name meaning 'circle.' The name dates back to the time of Joshua (Josh 11:2; 19:35). This name for the lake appears in 1Macc 11:67 and in Josephus (Wars II, 20:6; III, 10:7). Elsewhere the lake is called the Sea of Galilee (Mark 1:16), as well as the Sea of Tiberias (John 6:1; 21:1).

This lake is situated in the hills of southern Galilee, thirty miles to the west of the Mediterranean. Its surface is nearly 700 feet below sea level, but the surrounding hills reach an altitude of well over 1,000 feet above sea level. Fed chiefly by the Jordan River, the sea is thirteen miles long north to south and eight miles at its widest point. Because of its location, it is subject to sudden and violent storms which are usually of short duration. Josephus said the water of the lake was sweet for drinking and contained several kinds of fish (Wars III, 10:7).

2 and he saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen from them, having gotten out, were cleaning their nets.

and: Grk. kai, conj. he saw: Grk. horaō, aor., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience something or to have extraordinary mental or inward perception; see, perceive, experience. two: Grk. duo, the primary numeral two. boats: pl. of Grk. ploion in biblical times denoted any vessel that could go out on a body of water, whether lake, inland sea or ocean; used frequently of the fishing boats on the Sea of Galilee. The fishing boat was an open craft some twenty to thirty feet in length (Ellis). In modern times "ships" are vessels that can traverse oceans, whereas "boats" cannot, and this distinction probably guides Bible translation.

In 1986 an ancient fishing boat was discovered in the Sea of Galilee after a drought caused the water level of the Sea to drop dramatically. The find consisted of the hull of a fishing boat measuring 8.3m (27.23 ft) long, 2.3m (7.5 ft) wide and 1.3m (4.3 ft) deep. A boat of this kind would have been able to carry up to 15 people. The boat has been dubbed "the Jesus boat" because it has been dated to the first century. See the picture and story here.

standing: Grk. histēmi, perf. part. See the previous verse. by: Grk. para, prep. See the previous verse. the lake: Grk. ho limnē. See the previous verse. No mention is made of how the boat was secured in place, but a dock should not be assumed. but: Grk. de, conj. the fishermen: pl. of Grk. ho halieus (from hals, "the sea"), one associated with the sea and whose livelihood depends on fishing; fisherman, seaman. from: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of either (1) separation, from a circumstance, distance, place or time; or (2) origin, from a locality or place; here the latter. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun, here referring to the boats.

having gotten out: Grk. apobainō, pl. aor. part., to step off from a place; in relation to a boat, get out, disembark. The verb alludes to having concluded a time of fishing, arrived back at the shore and then disembarked to the land. were cleaning: Grk. plunō, impf., 3p-pl., to clean or wash. The verb is used of washing inanimate objects (Plummer). The great majority of versions translate the verb as "washing," but in this context "cleaning" is a better option (CJB, OJB, PHILLIPS), probably to remove debris such as flotsam and jetsam.

their nets: pl. of Grk. ho diktuon, a generic term for any kind of fishing net. Four types of nets were used in ancient Israel to catch fish: (1) a cast net thrown from the shore or from a boat, (2) a gill or trammel net, (3) a veranda net and (4) a drag net. (See the illustrations here.) The cleaning of the nets was preparatory to hanging them up to dry (Plummer).

3 And having stepped into one of the boats, which was of Simon, he asked him to put out a little from the land. Then having sat down he began teaching the crowds from the boat.

And: Grk. de, conj. having stepped: Grk. embainō, aor. part., to go in, get in or step in. into: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to a direction toward a goal or place and consequent arrival; into, to, unto. one: Grk. heis, the numeral one, a primary number. of the boats: pl. of Grk. ho ploion. See the previous verse. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to specify or give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above.

of Simon: Grk. Simōn, which almost transliterates the Hebrew name Shimôn ("Shee-mown"), meaning "he has heard." The name "Simōn" does not occur in the LXX at all. In the Tanakh the Heb. name Shimôn appears for the first time as the second son of Jacob and Leah (Gen 29:33) and then the tribe descended from him (Num 1:22-23). His name is translated in the LXX as Sumeōn and in English "Simeon." The apostle may well have been named in honor of the patriarch. Simon was a fisherman by trade and lived in Capernaum. For a review of Simon's life and ministry see my article Simon Peter: Fisherman-Apostle.

he asked: Grk. erōtaō, aor., can mean (1) to ask with the focus on querying for information; or (2) to ask in the sense of making a request, frequently with the effort to soften the tone for what might sound peremptory. The second meaning applies here. The subject of the verb is Yeshua. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Simon. to put out: Grk. epanagō, aor. inf., make one's way to a destination, here as a nautical term meaning "put out from the shore." a little: Grk. oligos, adj., used (1) of extent or degree; little, small; (2) of quantity, few; or (3) adverbially of time. The first meaning is intended here.

from: Grk. apo, prep. the land: Grk. ho gē can mean (1) soil; (2) land as contrasted with the sea; (3) the earth in contrast to the heavens; (4) the inhabited globe, people, humanity; or (5) land enclosed within fixed boundaries (BAG). The second meaning applies here. Plummer suggests that Simon was probably steering, and therefore both before and after the sermon he is addressed as to the placing of the boat. Of course, being the master of the boat he could have had a crewman handle steering.

Then: Grk. de. having sat down: Grk. kathizō, aor. part., to sit, to take one's seat. It was customary for Rabbis to teach while sitting (cf. Matt 5:1; 13:2; John 8:2). he began teaching: Grk. didaskō, impf., to teach or instruct in order to impart knowledge. the crowds: pl. of Grk. ho ochlos. See verse 1 above. from: Grk. ek, prep. which may be used to denote derivation or separation, here the former; from, out of, out from among. the boat: Grk. ho ploion. Yeshua uses Simon's boat as a pulpit in order to throw the net of the good news over his hearers (Plummer).

The shoreline of the Sea of Galilee made for an excellent vantage point for addressing the crowds. The topography of the shoreline formed a natural acoustically serviceable amphitheater (Liefeld). The teaching from the boat contrasts with the last verse of the previous chapter of Yeshua teaching in the synagogues. Lightfoot notes that the Sages viewed teaching in open-air places with disdain.

4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."

And: Grk. de, conj. when: Grk. hōs, adv. typically used for comparative purposes but here serves as a particle of time; when. he had finished: Grk. pauō, aor. mid., engage in cessation of an activity or state; cease, finish, stop. speaking: Grk. laleō, pres. part., to make an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; say, speak, talk. he said: Grk. legō, aor., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or written, often used to introduce quoted material. The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative; answer, ask, declare, say, speak, tell, told.

to: Grk. pros, prep. used to denote proximity or motion; to, toward, with. Here the preposition emphasizes being in company with another and speaking face to face. Simon: Grk. Simōn. See the previous verse. The matter-of-fact manner in which Yeshua takes charge of Simon and his crew and issues two specific instructions to them is remarkable. Put out: Grk. epanagō, aor. imp. See the previous verse. into: Grk. eis, prep. the deep: Grk. ho bathos, depth as a reference to downward measurement, whether of water or soil. The first directive is to Simon, the master of the boat.

and: Grk. kai, conj. let down: Grk. chalaō, aor. imp., 2p-pl., to slacken or effect movement downward in unfilled space; let down, lower. The verb is used here as a nautical term (Robertson). The second instruction is given to both Simon and Andrew and their helpers. your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The plural pronoun alludes to ownership by Simon and Andrew. nets: pl. of Grk. diktuon. See verse 2 above. for: Grk. eis. a catch: Grk. agra, a catching, a catch; i.e. a haul of fish. There must have been at least two nets that could have been thrown from both sides of the boat.

5 And answering Simon said, "Master, having worked hard through the whole night we have caught nothing, but at your word, I will let down the nets."

And: Grk. kai, conj. answering: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. part., to answer or reply to someone, whether to a question, request, exhortation, command, etc. (BAG). The verb always indicates something has preceded (either said or done) to which the remarks refer. Simon: Grk. Simōn. See verse 3 above. said: Grk. legō, aor. See the previous verse. Master: Grk. epistatēs, voc., one recognized as an authority, master, sir, teacher. The noun occurs only in Luke's narrative and always in addresses to Yeshua. In Greek culture the term meant the legal standing of ownership referring to the master-in-charge.

In the LXX the term occurs 8 times and translates as many words used of any sort of work supervisor (Ex 1:11; 5:14; 1Kgs 5:16; 2Kgs 25:19; 2Chr 2:2; 31:12; Jer 29:26; 52:25). Thayer says the title is used in the sense of "Rabbi" by disciples, and Stern renders the noun with "Rabbi" (CJB). However, the term "Rabbi" does not occur in Luke at all and Plummer in noting this avoidance of the term assumes Luke chose epistatēs because of addressing the narrative to Gentiles. However, Luke wrote this narrative for a Jewish man, Theophilus. The lack of the term "Rabbi" probably owes to Luke's insistence on accuracy.

In first century Jewish culture the title "Rabbi" was ordinarily used of men that had been formally ordained and was especially associated with recognized Sages such as Hillel and Shammai that operated schools and held a position of authority on the Sanhedrin. The few times that disciples addressed Yeshua as "Rabbi" was simply a recognition of him as their Teacher (cf. John 1:38; 6:68; 13:13; 20:16). Luke knew that Yeshua never identified himself as a Rabbi nor sought to be addressed in this manner, and he prohibited his disciples from calling themselves "Rabbi" (Matt 23:8).

Luke heard Simon say, "Master" and Simon must have used this title as proper in the circumstances. Simon had witnessed Yeshua giving authoritative orders at the wedding in Cana (John 2:7-8) and at the Temple in Jerusalem (John 2:17) and people responded with unquestioning obedience. Yeshua didn't say "please" or "would you mind doing this?" He commanded as if possessing full regal authority. So when Yeshua gave directions on Simon's boat, such as a work overseer might issue, Simon recognized and accepted that authority.

having worked hard: Grk. kopiaō, pl. aor. part., may mean (1) experience fatigue as a result of exertion; become weary or tired; or (2) engage in fatiguing activity, working hard, toil. The second meaning is intended here. through: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality; through, by means of; or (2) causality; on account of, because of. The first usage applies here. the whole: Grk. holos, adj., signifier of a thing understood as a complete unit and not necessarily every individual part; all, entire, whole. night: Grk. nux, as a chronological period, sunset to sunrise, night.

Geldenhuys notes that the best time for fishing with nets was during the dark night and the worst time was during the morning with the glistening rays of the sun on the waters. we have caught: Grk. lambanō, aor., 1p-pl., to lay or take hold of, to take in the hand or receive. The plural form no doubt includes Simon's brother Andrew (cf. Matt 4:18; Mark 1:16). nothing: Grk. oudeis, adj., used to indicate negation of a person or thing as actually existing at a given place or moment; no one, none, nothing, not one. Simon meant, "We have caught not one fish."

but: Grk. de, conj. at: Grk. epi, prep., generally a marker of position or location; on, upon, over. With the dative case of the noun following the preposition conveys that upon which something rests as a basis or support; "upon the ground of," "on the basis of" (Thayer). your: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. word: Grk. ho rhēma, a communication consisting of words, often with the implication of importance or special significance. I will let down: Grk. chalaō, fut. See the previous verse. the nets: pl. of Grk. ho diktuon. See verse 2 above. Even though Yeshua's instruction was contrary to experience and reason Simon respected the authority of Yeshua due to all the miracles he had witnessed.

6 And having done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish; now their nets began to tear;

And: Grk. kai, conj. having done: Grk. poieō, aor. part., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition; do, act, perform, work. The second meaning applies here. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person, thing or action set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. The pronoun alludes to the instruction of Yeshua which Simon obeyed.

they enclosed: Grk. sugkleiō, aor., to confine, enclose, hem in or shut in without means of escape. a great: Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, either indicating number ("many"); or high degree in amount or quality ("much, great"), here the latter. quantity: Grk. plēthos, a relatively large number of any kind, multitude or crowd. of fish: pl. of Grk. ichthus (for Heb. dag), a cold-blooded aquatic vertebrate, having fins and gills, and typically an elongated body covered with scales.

Fish were created on the fifth day of creation and subjected to the dominion of man (Gen 1:21-23, 26). In the diet instructions God gave Noah after the global deluge fish were included as food (Gen 9:2-3). Then at Sinai God instituted a kosher diet plan for Israel, specifying that of aquatic animals only those with fins and scales were considered clean and suitable for eating (Lev 11:9; Deut 14:9). Fish was a staple food for Israelites.

now: Grk. de, conj. their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. nets: pl. of Grk. diktuon. See verse 2 above. began to tear: Grk. diarrēssō, impf., forceful separation into parts, tear asunder. Barnes comments that if their nets had actually "broken," the fish would have escaped; but no more is meant than that there was such a multitude of fishes that their net was "on the point" of being torn asunder. Plummer attributes this miracle to knowledge rather than creation. After all Yeshua told Simon where to cast his nets. Henry Morris concurs saying that the miracle was one of providence whereby the omniscient Lord understood and controlled the time and place where the fish would be (DSB).

Yeshua's uncanny knowledge concerning fish is also manifest in the account of directing Simon to a fish with a coin in its mouth to pay the temple tax (Matt 17:24-27) and in a post-resurrection appearance directing Simon to cast a net from his boat in a specific place to catch fish (John 21:6-8).

7 and they signaled their partners in the other boat, having come, to help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.

and: Grk. kai, conj. they signaled: Grk. kataneuō, aor., 3p-pl., to beckon or signal, probably with a gesture. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. their partners: Grk. ho metochos, having a part in something; associate, companion, partner. The partners were the sons of Zebedee (verse 10 below). Only Luke mentions this business collaboration. in: Grk. en, prep. the other: Grk. ho heteros, adj. used to express difference or distinction, another or other of two, a second. Lumby notes that Luke uses the Greek word heteros much more frequently and with stricter accuracy than the other Evangelists. boat: Grk. ploion. See verse 2 above.

Plummer suggests there was too much distance between them to be heard. The other boat was still close to the shore (verse 2), for Simon alone had been told to put out into deep water. Nicoll notes that fishermen would be accustomed to communicate by signs to preserve needful stillness. having come: Grk. ho erchomai, pl. aor. part., to come or arrive, with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place. to help: Grk. sullambanō, aor. mid. inf., lit. "to take possession of by capture," here in the parlance of fishing to help catch fish. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The implication is that the partners would have understood the intention of the signaling.

And: Grk. kai. they came: Grk. erchomai, aor., 3p-pl. and: Grk. kai. filled: Grk. pimplēmi, aor., to cause to be in a condition that allows for no further addition, to be filled. both: Grk. amphoteroi, adj., both of two, both the one and the other. of the boats: pl. of Grk. ho ploion. so that: Grk. hōste, conj. which connects cause to necessary effect and emphasizes the result (HELPS); so that, therefore, so then, so as to. they: pl. of Grk. autos. began to sink: Grk. buthizō, pres. pass. inf., cause to sink or submerge. In other words, the weight of the fish caused the boats to sit so heavy in the water as to cause sea water to wash into the boat.

8 Now Simon Peter having seen, fell at the knees of Yeshua, saying, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!"

Now: Grk. de, conj. Simon: Grk. Simōn. See verse 3 above. Peter: Grk. Petros, personal name meaning 'a stone' (BAG, Mounce), although Thayer says the name signifies a stone, a rock, a ledge or a cliff, and Danker defines the name as "rockman." Yeshua gave Simon the name when they first met (John 1:42). The name does not occur at all in the LXX or earlier Jewish literature, which suggests that Simon is the first man to bear the name. Josephus does mention a man named Peter about thirty years later (Ant. XVIII, 6:3). Petros is actually the Greek translation of the Hebrew name Kêfa ("kay-fah," Grk. Kēphas, "rock"), although commentators typically say the name is Aramaic (Stern 22).

Hamp says that Kêpha is probably of Aramaic origin, but the root kêph ("rock," SH-3710) is found twice in the Hebrew Bible (Job 30:6; Jer 4:29) (19f). BDB says kêpha is a loanword in Hebrew (495), which for all practical purposes makes it Hebrew. (Many English words have their origin in other languages, but they are still part of English vocabulary.) Kêpha is transliterated as Kēphas in Greek and inaccurately spelled "Cephas" in Christian English versions. Of interest is that after the naming "Cephas" only appears in the letters of Paul.

The combination name "Simon Peter" occurs twenty times in the Besekh, all but three in the book of John and only here in Luke. The use of the double name must be significant and it may be simply that Simon was a common name, so adding "Peter" became a good way to distinguish him from the others. Yeshua's choice of naming Simon "Peter" perhaps indicated confidence in his ability to be a prominent leader and pillar of the Body of Messiah." Nevertheless, it's noteworthy that in the apostolic narratives Yeshua never uses "Peter" in addressing the apostle, but always "Simon."

having seen: Grk. horaō, aor. part. See verse 2 above. The verb emphasizes witnessing the miracle with his own eyes. He could later say, "I was there; I saw it." fell at: Grk. prospiptō, aor., to fall down or forward, fall prostrate before. The falling was not involuntary, but intentional as an expression of humility and reverence. the knees: pl. of Grk. gonu, the anatomical joint of the leg. of Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua, "Jesus" in Christian Bibles. Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH is salvation" (BDB 221). For more information on the meaning of his name and his identity see my article Who is Yeshua?

saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 4 above. Only Luke records the following statement of Simon. Depart: Grk. exerchomai, aor. imp., to move away from a place or position, go forth, go away from. The verb indicates physical movement. from: Grk. apo, prep. See verse 2 above. The preposition here signifies separation. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. This was not a preemptory order to get out of his boat, but from his kneeling position a pleading to leave his presence.

Lord: Grk. kurios, voc., may mean either (1) one with absolute ownership rights, master; or (2) one esteemed for authority or high status, lord. The second meaning applies here. It may be that in Simon's mind Yeshua not only knew where the fish were, but had the authority to command the fish to congregate where they could be caught. After all, the Son of Man has dominion over "whatever passes through the paths of the sea (Ps 8:8). The change from the previous use of "master" (verse 5) is remarkable. Plummer contrasts the two titles by noting that it is the "Master" whose orders must be obeyed, but the "Lord" possesses holiness that causes moral agony to the sinner.

Ellis suggests that the usage of "Lord" is the messianic confession that only later comes to conscious expression (101). We should remember that prior to meeting Yeshua for the first time Simon's brother Andrew had told him "We have found the Messiah" (John 1:41). It is also possible that Simon heard the confession of Nathaniel, "You are the Son of God, the King of Israel" (John 1:49). After the miracle in Cana Yeshua's early disciples, including Simon, believed in him (John 2:11). Yet, this belief did not result in immediate spiritual transformation, but rather brought about serious self-examination.

for: Grk. hoti, conj. used to (1) define a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introduce a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introduce a direct quotation; or (4) indicate the reason for something spoken or to be done, because, for. The fourth usage applies here. I am: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. The present tense emphasizes a state of being. a sinful: Grk. hamartōlos, adj., one who fails to meet religious or legal standards; sinful, sinner; also an outsider relative to the "in-group." In the LXX hamartōlos translates Heb. chatta, sinful, sinner, first in Genesis 13:13 of the wicked citizens of Sodom, and thereafter of someone who willfully violated God's holy standards (Num 16:38; 32:14; Deut 29:19), and which tended toward habitual practice (Ps 1:1; 51:13).

man: Grk. anēr, an adult man without regard to marital status. We should note that a man, biologically speaking, is distinguished from a woman by possession of the XY chromosome. Simon knew who and what he was. Among the Pharisees, the ultimate "in-group," the category of "sinner" included not only prostitutes and thieves, but also persons of low reputation and Sabbath violators. Indeed, consistent violation of traditions they considered important was enough to label a person as a "sinner." The tax collectors mentioned in verses 27-30 below were considered sinners merely because they served the Roman government.

Levine observes that confession is not a typical response to a miracle (110). Without details of transgressions we should not assume that Simon meant he was a wicked man nor that he was a criminal. Plummer regards the assumption that the Twelve, before their call, were exceptionally wicked as incredible and unscriptural. The manifestation of divine power made Simon suddenly aware that he was in the presence of "the Holy One of God" and by comparison he was not worthy to be the recipient of the miracle nor worthy to be a disciple.

Lumby observes that "Any one inventing the scene would have made Peter kneel in thankfulness or adoration, but would have missed the strange psychological truthfulness of the sense of sin painfully educed by the revealed presence of divine holiness." The next verse emphasizes the reason for Simon's confession.

9 For amazement had seized him and all those with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken;

For: Grk. gar, conj., a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that;" for. The conjunction has four uses: (1) explanatory, (2) expressive of astonishment, (3) causal and, (4) inferential. The first use is intended here. amazement: Grk. thambos, amazement, astonishment, awe. The term refers to someone who becomes stunned (dumbfounded) at what they see or hear; a state of amazement due to the suddenness and unusualness of the phenomenon, with either a positive or a negative reaction, here positive (HELPS).

had seized: Grk. periechō, aor., have in possession and denotes an emotional experience; seize, take hold of. Many versions don't translate the verb. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e. Simon. and: Grk. kai, conj. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. with: Grk. sun ("soon"), prep. used to denote accompaniment or close identification, here the former. him: Grk. autos. The mention of "those with him" would include Andrew and other helpers on his boat, considering the declaration of the next verse.

at: Grk. epi, prep. See verse 5 above. the catch: Grk. ho agra. See verse 4 above. of fish: Grk. ichthus. See verse 6 above. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to specify or give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. they had taken: Grk. sullambanō, aor. See verse 7 above. The verb is frequent in Luke but rare elsewhere in the Besekh (Plummer). No one who witnessed this extraordinary event could deny its miraculous nature. The utter astonishment at the divine miracle thus motivated Simon's confession. Whether the miracle caused his companions to also engage in self-assessment is not stated.

10 And likewise also Jacob and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Yeshua said to Simon, "Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.

Reference: Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17.

And: Grk. de, conj. likewise: Grk. homoiōs, adv., likewise, in similar manner, similarly. also: Grk. kai, conj. Jacob: Grk. Iakōbos is a Grecized form of Iakōb, which in the LXX transliterates the Heb. Ya'akov ("Jacob"), "James" in Christian Bibles. Messianic Jewish versions render the Jewish name as "Jacob." Actually, there is no one named "James" in the Bible. The rendering of Iakōbos as "James" in Christian Bibles is a Gentile invention. For the historical literary transition from "Jacob" to "James" see my comment on Mark 1:19.

The name Jacob is first introduced in Genesis 25:26 as the son of Isaac. The meaning of Jacob's name, "heel-catcher," had no negative connotation when first given. As indicated by Hosea 12:3, "heel-catcher" illustrated the strength and power he had with God. (For more on the background of the name see my article Our Father Jacob.) The son of Isaac held great honor among the people of Israel and so it is not surprising that five different men bear this name in the Besekh.

and: Grk. kai. John: Grk. Iōannēs, which in the LXX transliterates Heb. Yochanan, and rendered in almost all English Bibles as "John." Messianic Jewish versions (CJB, MW, MJLT, OJB) have "Yochanan." In the Tanakh the name identifies ten notable Israelites, rendered in Christian versions as "Johanan." When John's name appears with his brother in the Synoptic Narratives he is almost always listed second, suggesting that he was the younger of the two. For more biographical information on John see my web article Witnesses of the Good News.

sons: pl. of Grk. huios may refer to (1) a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry; or (2) one who is closely associated in terms of relationship or condition apart from physical lineage. of Zebedee: Grk. Zebedaios transliterates Heb. Zavdai meaning, "gift." Nothing is known further of Zebedee other than he owned a fishing business and was the father of two apostles. His Capernaum-based business employed several hired servants.

It is generally thought that Salome was the mother of the Zebedee's sons (cf. Matt 27:56; Mark 15:40). In addition, Salome may have been the sister of Yeshua's mother mentioned in John 19:25, and in that case the sons of Zebedee would have been blood cousins of Yeshua. The Bible does not say if Zebedee ever became a believer, but he did not stand in the way of his sons or wife becoming disciples of Yeshua. Jacob and John are usually distinguished by the mention of their family relations.

As members of the Twelve, Jacob and John along with Simon formed Yeshua's innermost circle of associates and was present for some of Yeshua's more significant miracles. The brothers were known as "sons of thunder" (Grk. Boanērges, Mark 3:17), which commentators generally attribute to having a stormy temper. It's more likely that since thunder is often associated with God's wrath in Scripture, the brothers gained the name by their suggestion that a Samaritan village be destroyed by fire from heaven (Luke 9:54). Jacob was the first of the Twelve to be martyred, put to death at the order of King Herod Agrippa I about AD 44 (Acts 12:2). John, on the other hand, outlived all the apostles and died from natural causes.

who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. were: Grk. eimi, impf., 3p-pl. See verse 1 above. partners: pl. of Grk. koinōnos, a sharer, partner, companion. The term properly means, a participant who mutually belongs and shares fellowship; a "joint-participant." with Simon: Grk ho Simōn. See verse 3 above. The definite article emphasizes "the one called." John and Jacob had a close working relationship with Simon in fishing. The description may imply combining the catches from both boats and then dividing equally the sale price at market.

And: Grk. kai. Yeshua: Grk. ho Iēsous. See verse 8 above. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 4 above. to: Grk. pros, prep. The preposition emphasizes face-to-face conversation. Simon: Grk ho Simōn. Do not: Grk. , adv., a particle of qualified negation, subjective in nature, involving will and thought; not. fear: Grk. phobeō, pres. mid. imp., to fear. The verb has two basic meanings that are opposite: (1) to be in a state of apprehension, with emotions ranging from anxiety to terror; and (2) to have special respect or reverence for, i.e., deep respect. The first meaning is intended here. Yeshua apparently detected fear of judgment in Simon's confession and entreated him to set aside his apprehension.

from: Grk. apo, prep. now on: Grk. nun, adv., marker of time in the present; now or just now. The adverb points to the future from the reference point of the present. you will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. catching: Grk. zōgreō, pres. part., capture alive, used in a positive sense. men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man or mankind; used here of members of the human race. This narrative lacks the specific call "Follow me" found in the parallel accounts (Matt 4:19; Mark 1:17). In reality Yeshua had already called Simon six months earlier (John 1:35-43), but Simon decided to go back to his fishing business. The prophetic statement serves as a renewal of the discipleship call and an affirmation of confidence in his future service to the Master.

11 And having brought their boats to the land, they followed him having left all.

Reference: Matthew 4:20-22; Mark 1:18-20.

And: Grk. kai, conj. having brought: Grk. katagō, aor. part., to lead or bring down, used here in the nautical sense of bringing a ship from deep water to land. their boats: pl. of Grk. ho ploion. See verse 2 above. These are the boats of Simon and Zebedee. to: Grk. epi, prep. The preposition stresses physical contact. the land: Grk. ho gē. See verse 3 above. they followed: Grk. akoloutheō, aor., 3p-pl., may mean (1) to be in motion in sequence behind someone; (2) to be in close association with someone, especially as a disciple. Both meanings have application here. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e. Yeshua. In accordance with the parallel accounts the verbal clause includes Andrew and the sons of Zebedee.

having left: Grk. aphiēmi, pl. aor. part., to release or send away with a range of meaning: (1) release from one's presence; (2) release from an obligation, cancel, forgive; (3) let remain behind; (4) leave standing or lying; and (5) permissive sense of let, let go, allow or tolerate. The fourth meaning applies here. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 9 above. Only Luke uses the adjective to describe what was left behind. The boats were probably left in the custody of family members.

Simon will later emphasize the fact that he made a firm commitment to leave his fishing business and the security it provided in order to follow Yeshua (Matt 19:27). Ellis suggests that this verse should "probably not be pressed to mean a complete and immediate abandonment of their trade, but it gives clear indication where the priorities of their lives now lie."

Date: Spring, A.D. 28

Cleansing and Sacrifice, 5:12-16

12 And it came to pass in his being in one of the cities, and behold a man full of skin disease; and having seen Yeshua and having fallen upon his face he entreated him, saying, "Lord, if you would be willing, you are able to cleanse me."

Reference: Matthew 8:2; Mark 1:40.

Timeline Note: Matthew places the following narrative after the Sermon on the Mount and Mark reports the incident after a period of preaching in the synagogues of Galilee. In any event several weeks had apparently passed since the calling of Simon, Andrew, Jacob and John.

And: Grk. kai, conj. it came to pass: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 1 above. The verb signals the passage of an indefinite time period and then a providential event about to occur. in: Grk. en, prep. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e. Yeshua. being: Grk. eimi, pres. inf. See verse 1 above. The infinitive stresses purpose. In other words, Yeshua knew he had a providential appointment. in: Grk. en. one: Grk. heis, the numeral one. of the cities: pl. of Grk. ho polis, a population center whose size or number of inhabitants could range broadly, a city or town. Luke does not identify the city nor the region, but Matthew and Mark locate the incident in Galilee. The double use of the preposition en stresses that Yeshua was inside the city.

and: Grk. kai. behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp., demonstrative interjection that arouses the attention of hearers or readers; (you) see, look, behold (BAG). In the LXX idou translates Heb. hinneh, lo, behold, which often serves to enliven divine monologues and narratives, particularly to invite closer consideration of something (e.g. Gen 1:29). Luke uses the Hebraistic interjection 36 times in the narrative to alert the reader to the next scene. a man: Grk. anēr. See verse 8 above. full: Grk. plērēs, adj., in a state or condition of being supplied abundantly with something, filled up, full of. The adjective denotes being completely covered. Only Luke the physician uses this adjective to describe the degree of physical affliction.

of skin disease: Grk. lepra, a variant spelling of lepros (Luke 4:27), a skin disease or disorder of a kind that could leave one religiously and socially separated. In the LXX lepra translates Heb. tzara'at, which refers to a disease afflicting the skin (first in Lev 13:2). Tzara'at could be of various types as described in Leviticus 13. Reports of tzara'at in the Tanakh are rare (Miriam, Num 12:10; Naaman, 2Kgs 5:1; Gehazi, 2Kgs 5:27; four men, 2Kgs 7:3; and King Uzziah, 2Kgs 15:5). Jewish regulations of the Mishnah concerning tzara'at are found in the tractate Negaim. The common translation of "leprosy" in most Bible versions is a bad choice.

The dictionary definition of leprosy, also known as Hansen's Disease, is a serious infectious disease that can cause muscle weakness, nerve damage, and paralysis. If not treated effectively, it can result in the loss of body parts and eventually death. Danker notes that the biblical data does not fit Hansen's disease and suggests a translation of "skin disorder." Some versions translate the noun with "skin disease" (CEB, EXB, GW, GNB, HCSB, ICB, NOG, NCV, NIRV, NLV, NRSVUE, WE) and Messianic Jewish versions have tzara'at (CJB, TLV).

According to medical experts tzara'at might be (1) psoriasis, an inflammatory skin disease characterized by scaly patches; (2) favus, a disease, especially of the scalp, characterized by dry yellow encrustations that have an unpleasant odor, usually caused by a fungus; or (3) leucoderma, also called vitiligo, a skin disorder characterized by smooth, white patches on various parts of the body, caused by the loss of the natural pigment (Wenham 196). If the disease went deeper than the skin the person was considered unclean (Lev 13:3).

With serious skin disease the afflicted person was quarantined outside the community (Lev 13:45). Pertinent to the Torah regulation Lightfoot notes that many cities since the time of Joshua were walled and the Jewish law in the first century had a corresponding rule: "cities that are walled are holier, for lepers must be sent out of them" (Kelim 1:7). However, the Torah regulation had a provision that aids interpretation of Luke's narrative:

12 "Suppose the tza’arat breaks out above the flesh, and so far as it all appears in the eyes of the kohen, covers all the skin of the infected person from his head to his feet. 13 Then the kohen will see, and behold, if the tza’arat has covered all of his body, he is to pronounce him clean of the plague. Since it has all turned white, he is clean." (Lev 13:9-13 TLV)

In Luke's narrative the skin disease covered all the skin and the man was inside the city. Even if a priest had declared the man to be "clean," he wanted to be healed. Regardless of a priestly declaration being covered with a skin disease still resulted in being shunned by others. Entering a house would cause the vessels inside to become unclean (Neg. 13:11). In the synagogues those with tzara'at were to be the first to enter and the last to leave, and that they had to sit in a separate compartment behind a partition, ten palms high, and six feet wide (Neg. 13:12). It is possible the man had been excluded from the city, but knowing that Yeshua had entered the city the man took courage to face the crowds in order to obtain healing.

and: Grk. kai. having seen: Grk. horaō, aor. part. See verse 2 above. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 8 above. and having fallen: Grk. piptō, aor. part., to drop from a relatively high position to a lower position. upon: Grk. epi, prep. his face: Grk. prosōpon, that which forms the prominent identifying part of a person, the face. he entreated: Grk. deomai, aor., direct a request with focus on appeal for assistance, the nature of which is nuanced by the context; ask, beseech, entreat, pray, plead, request. him: Grk. autos. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 4 above.

Lord: Grk. kurios, voc. See verse 8 above. Matthew also reports that the man addressed Yeshua as "Lord." Use of the title probably did not imply Messianic recognition, but his superior power to heal. He was the "master" of the human body. if: Grk. ean, conj. that serves as a conditional particle and produces an aspect of tentativeness by introducing a possible circumstance that determines the realization of some other circumstance. you would be willing: Grk. thelō, pres. subj., to have a desire for something or have a purpose for something; will, wish, desire. To the afflicted man Yeshua's willingness was the most essential factor in being healed, as in fact it is.

you are able: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid., the quality or state of being capable. to cleanse: Grk. katharizō, aor. inf., to clean or cleanse in order to remove any admixture, which is used of (1) physical removal of stains and dirt; (2) pronouncing clean in a religious sense after washing and offering sacrifices; (3) physical removal of skin disease to enable communal restoration; and (4) removal of the guilt or defilement of sin (BAG). The third meaning is intended here. In the LXX katharizō has wide application and is normally associated with removal of uncleanness that will enable a person to have contact with God and/or other people (Lev 13−14). The verb primarily translates Heb. taher, to cleanse or purify, first in Genesis 35:2. The Hebrew verb may depict either process or result (DNTT 3:104).

me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. The expressed desire of the afflicted man occurs verbatim in the accounts of Matthew and Mark. It is noteworthy that the man used the verb katharizō instead of therapeuō ("heal"). Even so katharizō is the more dramatic of the two verbs and the man wanted the disease completely removed from his body. Skin disease was believed to be incurable by human means, but the man believed Yeshua had the power imparted by God for doing the miraculous. Plummer suggests the man had more trust in Yeshua's power than his goodness, but on the contrary the declaration does not necessarily express doubt or lack of faith.

Regardless of the fact that Yeshua had previously healed many others, this man was likely used to being an outcast because of his particular disease. He needed reassurance that his earnest hope would not be crushed. His life of misery could be over with just a word from Yeshua. Would he give it? Many people have similar concerns about healing. Does God still heal? Should we pray confidently for healing? Why are many people not healed? For answers to these questions see my article Divine Healing.

13 And having stretched out his hand he touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately the skin disease departed from him.

Reference: Matthew 8:3; Mark 1:41-42.

And: Grk. kai, conj. having stretched out: Grk. ekteinō, aor. part., cause an object to extend in space, most often used of hands. his hand: Grk. ho cheir, the anatomical limb of the hand. The definite article probably signifies the right hand. Plummer notes that the phrase "stretched out the hand" is Hebraistic and occurs frequently in the LXX in connection with an act of punishment (e.g. Ex 7:5, 19; 8:1, 2; 9:22, 23; 10:12, 21, 22; 14:16, 21, 26, 27). Here the physical action, followed by words, demonstrated in the clearest possible manner Yeshua's willingness to cleanse the man of his disease.

he touched: Grk. haptō, aor. mid., make contact with or fasten to; touch, take hold of, grasp. The subject of the verb is Yeshua. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; used of the afflicted man. Levine notes that the Torah does not forbid touching someone with tzara'at, although Josephus suggests that one who touched a person afflicted with the skin disease would be esteemed as unclean (Against Apion 1.31). Yet, Yeshua did what no priest would ever do. The act of touching is significant because in that act power went from Yeshua's body into the body of the afflicted man (cf. Mark 5:30; Luke 6:19).

saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 4 above. I am willing: Grk. thelō, pres. See the previous verse. be cleansed: Grk. katharizō, aor. pass. imp. See the previous verse. The declaration was probably not necessary for the healing, but as reassurance to the man that his request had been granted. And: Grk. kai. immediately: Grk. eutheōs, adv., immediately, forthwith, or right away. The adverb is a dramatic device that energizes the narrative, often shifting the reader's attention to another scene.

the skin disease: Grk. ho lepra. See the previous verse. departed: Grk. aperchomai, aor., to be in movement from a position with or without mention of a destination, to go away, depart or leave. from: Grk. apo, prep. him: Grk. autos. Healing was instantaneous. One moment the man's body was covered with skin disease and the next moment the disease was completely gone.

14 And he ordered him to tell no one, "But having gone show yourself to the priest and make an offering concerning your cleansing, just as Moses commanded, for a testimony to them."

Reference: Leviticus 14:2-32; Matthew 8:4; Mark 1:43-44.

And: Grk. kai, conj. he: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Yeshua. ordered: Grk. paraggellō, aor., to give authoritative direction; order, instruct, direct. In the Besekh the verb is used of a wide variety of instructions, whether practical or ethical. In the LXX paraggellō translates Heb. shama, to hear, and meaning to cause to hear, assemble, proclaim, or summon (DNTT 1:340). It is used of the authoritative proclamations of leaders, generals and kings (Josh 6:7; 1Kgs 15:22; 2Chr 36:22; 1Macc 5:58; 2Macc 13:10). In contrast Mark uses a verb that means "sternly forbid or warn." him: Grk. autos; i.e. the healed man. Yeshua then gives two significant orders.

to tell: Grk. epō, aor. inf., to speak or say by word or writing; answer, bring word, say, speak, tell. no one: Grk. mēdeis, adj. (from , "not" and heis, "one"), not even one, none. The instruction stands in contrast to what Yeshua will later tell the Gerasene demoniac (Luke 8:39). Yet, there were other occasions when Yeshua told someone not to tell others about him or about some miracle he had performed (cf. Matt 16:20; Mark 8:30; Luke 8:56). There is scholarly debate as to the reason behind the prohibition. Geldenhuys suggests that Yeshua did not want the multitudes to become too enthusiastic about his miraculous works, because it could lead to their proclaiming him as earthly Messiah (cf. John 6:15).

Stern comments similarly that in the early part of his ministry Yeshua did not publicize the fact that he was the Messiah, because the people expected a Messiah who would liberate Israel from Rome and rule in glory, not one who would die a criminal's death. Had he been publicly identified as the Messiah, the people would have tried to make him king then and there, as they did soon after (John 6:15). If the people had gotten the Messiah they wanted they wouldn't have gotten the Messiah they needed.

Plummer suggests that Yeshua's directive was primarily meant to prevent the man from having intercourse with others before being pronounced dean by proper authority. Similarly the priests might hear of the miracle before the man arrived, and then decide, out of hostility to Yeshua, to deny the cure. In any event Yeshua probably did not mean for the man to never tell his story, but to refrain in the present circumstance. Mark 1:45 also provides a hint of Yeshua's rationale, regarding his freedom of movement. Nevertheless, the first order is qualified by the second order.

But: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. having gone: Grk. aperchomai, aor. part. See the previous verse. The participle describes leaving the presence of Yeshua to carry out the following instruction. show: Grk. deiknumi, aor. imp., may mean to show (1) so as to be observed by another, point out, make known; or (2) or so as to be understood by another, explain, demonstrate. The first usage applies here. yourself: Grk. seautou, reflexive pronoun of the second person.

to the priest: Grk. ho hiereus, one who offers sacrifice to God and conducts sacred rites at the place of worship or sanctuary; priest. In the LXX hiereus translates Heb. kohen, priest, first in Genesis 14:18 in reference to Melchizedek. The role of the kohen was to stand between God and the people, to be a mediator (cf. Num 16:48; 21:7; Deut 5:5). God stipulated specific standards for priests: only men from the tribe of Levi, free of physical defect and ordained at age 30 (Ex 29:9; Lev 21:17-23; Num 4:2-3). Priests were organized into 24 divisions or courses and served in the temple for one week, Sabbath to Sabbath, twice a year, as well as at the three major pilgrim festivals (Jeremias 199).

According to Josephus in the first century there were in excess of 20,000 priests in the courses (Contra Apion, 2:8). Except when required to be in Jerusalem for duty the ordinary priests lived in towns and villages scattered throughout the land of Israel (Jeremias 206). Only a priest could officially declare the man "clean" (Neg. 3:1). The man had to show himself to the priest in his place of residence and afterwards go the Jerusalem to complete the rest of the instruction (Lane 87; citing Tosefta Negaim 8:2).

and: Grk. kai. make an offering: Grk. prospherō, aor. imp., to cause movement of something or someone to a person or place, and meaning (1) to bring near or to; (2) to offer or present, especially of offerings to God; or (3) to bear oneself towards (Zodhiates). The second meaning is intended here. In the LXX prospherō translates Heb. qarab, "to come or draw near" or "approach," used in the sense of bringing and offering a sacrifice at the sacred place (Ex 29:3; Lev 1:2; 2:1, 8).

concerning: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; in behalf of, about, concerning. your: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. cleansing: Grk. katharismos, the state of being clean in either a religious or spiritual sense; cleansing, purifying, purification. In the LXX katharismos translates Heb. tahorah, cleansing or purifying to remove various forms of uncleanness (Lev 12:4; 14:32; 15:13; 1Chr 23:38). just as: Grk. kathōs, adv. emphasizing similarity, conformity, proportion or manner; as, just as.

Moses: Grk. Mōusēs transliterates Heb. Mosheh, the son of Amram and Jochebed of the tribe of Levi (Ex 6:20; Num 26:59). The name Moses may be derived from Egyptian mes meaning "child" or "son" (BDB 602), since the daughter of Pharaoh named him (Ex 2:10). She explained the chosen name by saying, "Because I drew [Heb. mashah, "to draw"] him out of the water." Josephus offers a slightly different account of the naming:

"Hereupon it was that Thermuthis [the daughter of Pharaoh] imposed this name Mouses upon him, from what had happened when he was put into the river; for the Egyptians call water by the name of Mo, and such as are saved out of it, by the name of Uses: so by putting these two words together, they imposed this name upon him." (Ant. II, 9:5)

The story of Moses is found in the extensive narratives from Exodus 1:1 through Deuteronomy 34:1. His life of 120 years can be divided into three 40-year periods, the first being his birth and early life in Egypt (c. 1525−1485 B.C.; Ex 2:11; Acts 7:23); the second his years in Midian (c. 1485−1445 B.C.; Ex 7:7; Acts 7:30); and the third from the Exodus from Egypt through the years spent in the wilderness until his death (c. 1445−1405 B.C.; Ex 16:35; Deut 34:7; Acts 7:36).

Moses was the leader of the Israelites in their journey from Egypt through the wilderness to the Jordan River. Moses was a heroic leader of the people and a devout man of God. Most importantly Moses served as God's spokesman to facilitate the beginning of the covenant relationship between God and Israel. For a summary and analysis of his life and deeds see my article Moses, Servant of God.

commanded: Grk. prostassō, aor., to give an authoritative directive; command, enjoin, order or prescribe. There is no intention here as giving Moses the credit for inventing the instruction. God communicated His will to Israel through Moses (Ex 35:29; Lev 8:36; 10:11; 26:46; 27:34; Num 4:37; 15:22; 26:13; Jdg 3:4; Neh 9:14; 10:29). In doing so Moses authored the first five books of the Bible, called "Torah" by Jews and "Pentateuch" by Christians, and was guided by the Holy Spirit in producing this great work (2Tim 3:16; 2Pet 1:20-21). The law for restoring a person who had been afflicted with tzara'at to a clean status is found in Leviticus 14:1-32 and in the Mishnah, Negaim Chap. 14.

The entire process took eight days to complete. In order to be declared clean the afflicted person had to bring specific animals, grain and oil to be offered. Then the priest completed atonement by conducting the sacrifices. Afterwards the man must wash his clothes, shave his hair and bathe his body. Then he would be declared "clean." At this time of this event there was a courtyard in the Temple called the Chamber of the Lepers, where those who had experienced a healing were to take a mikveh-immersion and then submit to a physical inspection by the priests to verify the healing (Neg. 14:8) (Kasdan 82).

Commentators typically refer to this regulation as "ceremonial," which has the effect of implying that it is not really very important. However, none of the so-called "ceremonial" laws in the Torah clash with the law of love. God, not Moses, gave both commandments and imposed these regulations to be obeyed. Failure to obey the procedure to be declared "clean" was a grave sin that merited severe punishment (Num 19:13, 20).

for: Grk. eis, prep. a testimony: Grk. marturion, that which serves to corroborate or attest, a testimony or witness. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., the priests. The healed man needed the official approval of a priest to confirm the healing in order to regain social acceptance. Stern says that by the first century Judaism had developed a list of major signs the true Messiah could be expected to give as proof of his identity and healing a leper was one of them (34). The man's obedience would send a message to the religious establishment that the Messiah had come and is at work, doing what only the Messiah can do. This viewpoint can be found in the Talmud:

"R. Joshua b. Levi met Elijah [the prophet] … He then asked him, 'When will the Messiah come?' 'Go and ask him himself,' was his reply. 'Where is he sitting?' 'At the entrance.' And by what sign may I recognize him?' 'He is sitting among the poor lepers: all of them untie their bandages all at once, and rebandage them together, whereas he unties and rebandages each separately, before treating the next, … The Rabbis said: His name is 'the leper scholar,' as it is written, Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him a leper, smitten of God, and afflicted." (Sanh. 98a+b)

However, Yeshua does not explain what he meant by "a testimony." He generally refused to satisfy the demand that he produce signs to prove his Messianic identity (cf. Matt 16:4; Mark 8:12; Luke 11:29). Conversely, it is likely that the testimony, as Lightfoot suggests, would affirm in the strongest terms that the skin disease, incurable by human means was now healed by miracle, as formerly it had been in the case of Miriam and Naaman, and so there was now a great prophet arisen in Israel.

Plummer suggests an important reason was to demonstrate that Yeshua did not disregard the Torah as his adversaries claimed (cf. Matt 5:17). Geldenhuys concurs saying that with the man's obedience the priests would have evidence that Yeshua did not disregard the ceremonial laws where they do not clash with the law of love. This is an odd interpretation. None of the so-called "ceremonial" laws in the Torah clash with the law of love. In fact, for a Jew to love God first (Luke 10:27) meant to obey all of His commandments (Deut 11:1).

Commentators avoid addressing the proverbial "elephant in the room." Christian theologians have generally declared that Yeshua abolished or ended the law of Moses, essentially making him a liar. (See my comment on Matt 5:17-19 and Rom 10:4-5.) Yet, here Yeshua affirms the authority of the Torah commandment regarding restoration from uncleanness. Moreover, the promise of the New Covenant did not include cancellation of covenantal requirements for Israel, but empowerment to obey them (Jer 31:31-33; Heb 10:15-16).

In the first century the Torah of Moses constituted the standard of faith and conduct for the early disciples and congregations of Yeshua (Luke 2:22; Acts 15:19-21; 21:20-26; Rom 8:3-4; 15:4; 1Cor 7:19; 9:9; 1Tim 3:16). It's a sad fact that many Christians don't want to be bound by God's commandments, just as the ancient Israelites (cf. Jdg 17:6; 21:25). Thus, the view that the Torah has been canceled reflects an antinomian bias, is patently in error and alien to the teaching of Yeshua and the apostles.

15 And the report about him was being spread still more, and large crowds were gathering to hear him and to be healed from their sicknesses.

Reference: Mark 1:45.

And: Grk. de, conj. the report: Grk. ho logos. See verse 1 above. about: Grk. peri, prep. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. was being spread: Grk. dierchomai, impf. mid., to move within an area from one area to another, to go through or spread abroad. The imperfect tense indicates that the fame of Yeshua kept going (Robertson). still more: Grk. mallon, adv. of increase or additive to some aspect of activity, situation, or condition; (much) more. The adverb gives added contrast to the instruction not to tell. Mark's narrative notes that the cleansed man disobeyed Yeshua and that he spread the news far and wide about his healing. No mention is made regarding whether the man obeyed the instruction to go to the priest.

For the man to share his testimony of healing was no doubt done out of gratitude. The man's actions present a conundrum. According to Mark's narrative Yeshua "sternly warned" the man not to tell anyone (Mark 1:43). Yeshua shifted from compassionate healer one moment to an admonishing prophet the next. Yet, the man blatantly disregarded and disobeyed Yeshua's instruction. It might be easy to excuse such behavior as so much enthusiasm, but the action actually hindered Yeshua's ministry. The apostles do not explain the outcome of the man's sin, but only a fool disobeys a clear commandment of Yeshua.

and: Grk. kai, conj. large: Grk. polus, adj. See verse 6 above. crowds: pl. of Grk. ochlos. See verse 1 above. were gathering: Grk. sunerchomai, impf. mid., may mean (1) to come together as a collection of persons; (2) come together in a close personal relationship; or (3) come or go together with someone. The first meaning applies here. Luke then mentions a two-fold motivation for people gathering. to hear him: Grk. akouō, pres. inf. See verse 1 above. As stated previously the people were very interested in the teaching of Yeshua (Luke 4:31-32, 42).

and: Grk. kai. to be healed: Grk. therapeuō, pres. pass. inf., may mean (1) to offer helpful service, help out, serve; or (2) the specific service of restoring a person to health. The second meaning applies here. from: Grk. apo, prep. their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. sicknesses: pl. of Grk. astheneia may mean (1) weak in body, sick, sickly; or (2) lacking capacity for something, weak. The first meaning is intended here. The term likely refers to a condition of debilitating illness, sickness, disease, or disability. The availability of free medical care was a strong appeal.

16 But he was withdrawing into wilderness places and praying.

Plummer notes that the verse forms one of those resting-places with which Luke frequently ends a narrative (1:80; 2:20, 40, 52; 3:18-20; 4:13, 15, 30, 44). But: Grk. de, conj. The conjunction introduces a contrast to the previous verse. he was withdrawing: Grk. hupochōreō, pres. part., to go away from a site or area; go off, retire, retreat, withdraw. into: Grk. eis, prep. wilderness places: pl. of Grk. ho erēmos, an unpopulated region, desert or secluded place. In the LXX erēmos often translates Heb. midbar, which may refer to tracts of land used for pasturage, uninhabited land or dry land (BDB 484), first in Genesis 14:6. Yeshua looked for a places outside of the towns for privacy.

and: Grk. kai, conj. praying: Grk. proseuchomai, pres. mid. part., to petition deity for some personal desire, to offer prayer. In the LXX proseuchomai translates Heb. palal, to intervene, mediate, intercede or pray (DNTT 2:862). The verb generally refers to earnestly petitioning God for His help with respect to an urgent need. Typical of Luke, the narrative calls attention again to the fact that Yeshua repeatedly withdrew to seek quiet and communion with the Father in prayer. Sometimes he prayed in the morning (Mark 1:35), or sometimes in the evening (Matt 14:23), and on one occasion prayed through the night (Luke 6:12).

Date: Summer, A.D. 28

Reward of Faith and Forgiveness, 5:17-26

17 And it came to pass on one of the days that he was teaching; and there were Pharisees and Torah-teachers sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of ADONAI was in him to heal.

Timeline Note: Matthew reports the following story after Yeshua's exorcism of the Gadarene (Matt 8:28-9:1), whereas Mark places the incident after the healing of the man with the skin disease. Both Matthew and Mark concur with Luke in placing the event before the calling of Levi (Matthew). Santala dates the event in the summer of A.D. 28 (114).

And: Grk. kai, conj. it came to pass: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 1 above. The Hebraistic verb again signals the passage of an indefinite time period and the arrival of a providential appointment. on: Grk. en, prep. one: Grk. heis, adj., the numeral one. of the days: pl. of Grk. ho hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life or activity (BAG). The first meaning applies here. Since there is no mention of the Sabbath this must have been a weekday.

that: Grk. kai. he was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. teaching: Grk. didaskō, pres. part. See verse 3 above. Luke does not identify the location, but Matthew and Mark definitely place the event in Capernaum (Matt 9:1; Mark 2:1). In addition, Mark notes that Yeshua was in a house or a building other than the synagogue. The number of people in attendance would imply a structure with a large capacity for people, perhaps the home of a wealthy patron.

and: Grk. kai. there were: Grk. eimi, impf., 3p-pl. Pharisees: pl. of Grk. Pharisaios, a rough transliteration of Heb. P'rushim, meaning "separatists." In his first mention of Pharisees Luke offers no explanation of this Jewish party, but Theophilus would have known all about them. The title was born of the fact that they devoted themselves to study and observance of the Torah. The Pharisees traced their roots to the Hasidim ("pious ones") organized in the time of Ezra, but are known as an organized group from the 2nd c. B.C. (Jeremias 247).

The first mention of the group is in the books of Maccabees where they are described as "a company of Hasideans, mighty warriors of Israel, every one who offered himself willingly for the law (Torah)" (1Macc 2:42; cf. 1Macc 7:13; 2Macc 14:6). Josephus identifies the Pharisees were one of four major Jewish parties in the first century: (Ant. XIII, 5:9; XVII, 2:4; XVIII, 1:1-6; Wars, II, 8:1-14). In the time of Herod the Great they numbered in excess of 6,000. The Pharisees resisted syncretism and regarded Greek ideas as abominations. In addition to their pietism, the Pharisees held the biblical teachings of the Messiah, life after death, resurrection of the dead, immortality, and angels.

Learning of the Torah in the synagogues was supervised by Pharisees, and even though the temple was under the control of Sadducean priests, the worship, prayers, sacrifices, and various festival customs were performed according to the direction of the Pharisees (Ant. XIII, 10:6; XVIII, 1:3-4). General Christian perception is that all Pharisees were bad since Yeshua was often at odds with certain Pharisees and referred to some of them as hypocrites (15 times in the Synoptic Narratives, e.g., Matt 6: 2, 5; 15:7; 23:13-15).

However, there were good Pharisees. A Pharisee invited Yeshua to dine at his house (Luke 7:36) and a group of Pharisees warned Yeshua of a plot by Herod to kill him (Luke 13:31). Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin believed in Yeshua (John 3:1). And, of course, Paul himself was a devoted Pharisee (Acts 23:6). Gamaliel, Paul's mentor, was a voice of moderation on the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:34). For a definitive treatment of the Pharisee party, their theology and practices, see Ron Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Yeshua and the Original Church; Lederer Books, 1996.

and: Grk. kai, conj. Torah-teachers: pl. of Grk. nomodidaskalos (from nomos, "law," and didaskalos, "teacher"), a scholarly expert in the Torah and its interpretation. This person was so highly learned in the Hebrew Scriptures, they had the status of "teaching-jurist." i.e. a premier "teacher of the Law" who gave "expert theological opinion" on issues in Jewish life and religion (HELPS). The term does not occur in secular Greek nor the LXX or earlier Jewish literature. The term occurs only three times in the Besekh (also Acts 5:34; 1Tim 1:7). Given the scarcity of usage Luke may have coined the term.

sitting there: Grk. kathēmai, pres. mid. part., be at rest on the haunches, to sit down or to take a seat. The present tense emphasizes remaining in this position. who: pl. of Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 9 above. had: Grk. eimi, impf. come: Grk. erchomai, pl. perf. part. See verse 7 above. from: Grk. ek, prep., lit. "out of." every: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 9 above. village: Grk. kōmē, village, smaller and less prestigious than a city. Plummer regards "every village" to be hyperbole. Nevertheless this clause emphasizes the presence of the Pharisees and legal scholars throughout the land of Israel. They weren't just concentrated in one place.

of Galilee: Grk. ho Galilaia from the Heb. Galil, lit. "circle" or "region." Galilee was bounded on the west and north by the Province of Syria, on the east by the Jordan and Sea of Galilee and on the south by Samaria. See the map here and the description in Josephus (Wars III, 3:2). In the time of Josephus the province was a very fertile region that included 240 cities and villages (Life §45), of which the names of forty are recorded by Josephus (Merrill 17). Galilee is referred to as "Galilee of the nations" (Isa 9:1; Matt 4:15), which alludes to the foreign domination by successive empires of Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Greece and then Rome.

International trade routes also passed through Galilee bringing many visitors of foreign nations. Regardless of the presence of foreigners the population of Galilee was predominately Jewish (Merrill 16), which included both traditional or orthodox Jews, Hellenized Jews and Hellenistic Jews. Galilee was noted as the home of the Zealot movement (Ant. XVIII, 1:6). Thus, Galileans were noted for their passionate hatred of the Romans and hunger for Messianic deliverance.

and: Grk. kai. Judea: Grk. Ioudaia, Judea, a name applied to that part of Canaan occupied by those who returned after the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities (Zodhiates). In the LXX Ioudaia translates Heb. Y'hudah ("praised"), Judea or the Kingdom of Judah, first in Ruth 1:1. The name of Ioudaia is used here to refer to the historic territory that lay between Samaria on the north and Idumea on the south. Judea was bounded on the west by the Mediterranean Sea and the east by the Jordan River (Acts 1:8). (See the map.) Some lexicons (BAG, Danker and Thayer) commit the egregious error of defining Ioudaia as "Palestine." See my article The Land is NOT Palestine.

and: Grk. kai. Jerusalem: Grk. Ierousalēm, a transliteration of Heb. Yerushalaim, occurring in the LXX, first in Joshua 10:1 (DNTT 2:324). The city is situated some 2500 feet above sea level and eighteen miles west of the northern end of the Dead Sea. The city was renowned as the capital of all Israel and the seat of central worship in the temple. Since the time of David the city covered seven mountains: Mount Zion, Mount Ophel, Mount Moriah, Mount Bezetha, Mount Acra, Mount Gareb, and Mount Goath (Neil 289). See a topographical map of the city here.

Geldenhuys suggests that the presence of religious leaders hints at the conflict that had begun to build between themselves and Yeshua over his actions in Jerusalem to cleanse the temple (John 2:13-15) and heal on the Sabbath (John 5:16). Perhaps they had even heard about the healing of the man with the skin disease and decided to investigate the sign of Messianic identity.

And: Grk. kai. the power: Grk. dunamis, the quality or state of being capable, here as an external exhibition of a singular capability of performing the miraculous. of ADONAI: Grk. kurios. See verse 8 above. Here the sacred name is intended. Messianic Jewish versions render the title as ADONAI (CJB, MJLT, TLV). The exact Greek phrase dunamis kuriou occurs twice in the LXX, first at Exodus 12:41 where dunamis translates Heb. tsaba, army or host, generally used of the power of a military force; and then Joshua 4:24 where dunamis substitutes for Heb. yad, hand, used as an idiomatic expression to denote God's power. In many LXX references dunamis is used of the power of God (e.g., Deut 3:24; 1Chr 29:11; Ps 93:1; 118:15; 140:7; Jer 16:21).

was: Grk. eimi, impf. The imperfect tense stresses continuous existence. in: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Yeshua. In other words divine power was imparted to Yeshua in his incarnation and he could direct that power out of himself. to heal: Grk. iaomai, pres. mid. inf., heal or cure, both of curing bodily ailments (Luke 9:2) and exorcism (Acts 10:38), but also fig. of deliverance from ills of many kinds, including spiritual restoration (Matt 13:15; John 12:40) and emotional healing (Luke 4:18) (BAG).

In the LXX iaomai frequently translates Heb. rapha, to heal or cure, first in Genesis 20:17 (DNTT 2:167). Rapha has the same range of meaning, including healing national hurts in Isaiah 53:5 (BDB 950). Scripture claims that God is the source of all healing, "I am ADONAI who heals you" (Ex 15:26 TLV; cf. Ps 103:3).

18 And behold men were carrying on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; and they were seeking to bring him and to place him in front of Yeshua.

Reference: Matthew 9:2; Mark 2:3.

And: Grk. kai, conj. behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp. See verse 12 above. men: pl. of Grk. anēr. See verse 8 above. Mark says there were four men. were carrying: Grk. pherō, pl. pres. part., to move from one position to another; to bear, carry (bring) along, especially to a definite or prescribed conclusion (HELPS). The fact of carrying demonstrates care and compassion. on: Grk. epi, prep. a stretcher: Grk. klinē, a structure for lying down, which can range from a litter or stretcher or a more fixed structure as a bed or couch, here the former.

a man: Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 10 above. The unidentified man could have been a near relation of the stretcher-bearers or even a neighbor (cf. Luke 4:40). who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. paralyzed: Grk. paraluō, perf. pass. part., cause to be in a weakened condition; enfeebled, weakened. As a medical diagnosis the verb refers to a weakening of the nervous system to deprive limbs of function, thus "paralyzed." Plummer notes that Luke uses only the verb and not the noun for paralysis in accord with the usage by ancient medical writers.

and: Grk. kai. they were seeking: Grk. zēteō, impf., 3p-pl., to seek or search in order to find. to bring: Grk. eispherō, aor. inf., cause to be brought into a place or condition; lead into, bring in. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. and: Grk. kai. to place: Grk. tithēmi, aor. inf., to arrange for association with a site, to put or place. him: Grk. autos. in front of: Grk. enōpion, prep., from a word meaning "facing" with the basic idea of being 'in sight of' or 'in the presence of.' Yeshua: Grk. autos, lit. "him." The reason for the seeking is explained in the next verse.

19 And not having found what way to bring him in because of the crowd, having gone up on the roof they lowered him through the tiles with his stretcher, into their midst, in front of Yeshua.

Reference: Mark 2:4.

And: Grk. kai, conj. not: Grk. , adv. having found: Grk. heuriskō, pl. aor. part., to acquire or obtain something, especially after seeking. what way: Grk. poios, interrogative pronoun, of what kind or sort. The pronoun alludes to the men asking themselves "how are we going to get in?" to bring him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. in: Grk. eispherō, aor. subj., 3p-pl. See the previous verse. because of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 5 above. The preposition stresses causality. the crowd: Grk. ho ochlos. See verse 1 above. The noun refers to the people gathered outside the house and perhaps in the courtyard.

having gone up: Grk. anabainō, pl. aor. part., to go up or ascend a height. on: Grk. epi, prep. the roof: Grk. dōma, the roof as a level structure over a house. The flat roofs of ancient houses, accessed by means of an outside staircase, served as places for sleeping (1Sam 9:26), mourning (Isa 15:3) or prayer (Dan 6:10). HELPS notes that flat housetops were ideal on hot summer nights for sleeping and passing on information "from one housetop to another." they lowered: Grk. kathiēmi, aor., 3p-pl., to let down, cause to descend or to make lower. him: Grk. autos. through: Grk. dia. Here the preposition stresses means or instrumentality. the tiles: pl. of Grk. keramos, a clay roof tile. The tiles formed the water-proof covering of the roof.

Mark notes that the men dug through the roof to create an opening. This detail stresses the thick structure of the roof. To create a man-sized hole would be no small task and the men did not concern themselves with whether debris might fall into the room. They had a mission and they were not going to stop until they succeeded. with: Grk. sun, prep. See verse 9 above. his: Grk. autos. stretcher: Grk. klinidion (diminutive of klinē), a small couch or litter of a sick person. into: Grk. eis, prep. their midst: Grk. ho mesos, middle, center, in the midst of, among. in front of: Grk. emprosthen, prep., expresses a spatial position that is in front or ahead; before, in front of. Yeshua: Grk. ho Iēsous. See verse 8 above.

What would be the odds of the men picking a spot on the roof to create a hole and lowering the invalid so that he would be placed exactly in front of Yeshua? Given that this was part of God's sovereign plan they obviously had divine help in picking the spot and creating the hole. The men probably used rope to lower the invalid on his stretcher without dropping him and causing further injury.

20 And having seen their faith, he said, "Man, your sins are forgiven you."

Reference: Matthew 9:2; Mark 2:5.

And: Grk. kai, conj. having seen: Grk. horaō, aor. part. See verse 2 above. their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The plural pronoun certainly alludes to the men carrying the stretcher, but must also include the invalid. faith: Grk. ho pistis (from peithō, "to persuade, be persuaded"), incorporates two primary facets of meaning: (1) that which causes trust and faith, i.e., faithfulness or reliability, and (2) trust or confidence in an active sense (BAG). Christian versions translate the noun as "faith," but the CJB has "trust." The noun no doubt expresses the confidence of the men in Yeshua's ability to heal just as did the man with skin disease. There is also another shade of meaning that could apply to the men.

In the LXX pistis translates primarily Heb. emun word group, which means faithfulness, fidelity, firmness, or steadfastness, mainly of men's faithfulness (Deut 32:20; Prov 13:17; 1Sam 26:23; 2Kgs 12:15; 22:7; Jer 5:1, 3; 7:28; 9:3; Hos 2:20), but also of God's faithfulness (Ps 33:4; Lam 3:23; Hab 2:4). Zodhiates says that pistis also includes the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to God (1163). Thayer and the NASBEC also include "faithfulness" in the definition of pistis. Thus, Yeshua could have noted the faithfulness of the men to God.

he said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 4 above. Yeshua then addressed the invalid. Man: Grk. anthrōpos (for Heb. Adam), voc. See verse 10 above. In the LXX the simple vocative anthrōpe occurs eight times, six times in addressing a prophet of Israel as "man of God" (1Kgs 17:18; 2Kgs 1:9, 11, 13; 4:16, 39), one time addressing Israel (Mic 6:8) and one time addressing an adversary that that portended the betrayal of Judas (Ps 55:13). Apparently there was no introduction so Yeshua did not call him by name. Matthew and Mark say that Yeshua addressed the man with "Son" (Grk. teknon, "child, son," for Heb. ben, "son").

In Hebrew/Jewish culture an adult man might be addressed with Heb. ben or Grk. teknon (Gen 27:18, 20; Mark 10:24). The use of "Man" is no insult, but denotes the invalid as a responsible adult. Many versions translate the noun as "Friend," but that is not a meaning for anthrōpos and Yeshua would not have addressed a stranger is that manner. Since Yeshua spoke in Hebrew he likely said "ben Adam" (Orthodox Jewish Bible), which is confirmed by combining the three narratives. The use of ben-Adam also anticipates its use in verse 24 below.

your: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. sins: pl. of Grk. ho hamartia may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. The first meaning is intended here. Hamartia is the dominant word for sin in the Besekh. The noun occurs 9 times in Luke, always in the plural form, which points to the cumulative effect of living by one's own preferences and values.

In the LXX hamartia translates a range of Hebrew words for guilt and sin, particularly Heb. avon, iniquity, guilt, punishment for iniquity (Gen 15:16); and chatta'ah, sinful thing, sin (Gen 18:20) (DNTT 3:577). In Scripture sin is a conscious deviation from the right way and as a behavior is a violation of commandments given by God and recorded in the Torah by Moses (Rom 3:20; 4:15; 7:7; Jas 2:9; 1Jn 3:4). The definition of sin would also extend to willful disobedience of injunctions by the apostles to whom Yeshua gave the authority to impose behavioral requirements (Matt 16:19; cf. Eph 2:20; Php 2:12; 2Th 3:14).

The earliest mentions of sin depict behavior that merits the judgment of God (cf. Gen 15:16; 18:20; 20:9; 42:21; Ex 10:17; 20:5). Behavioral sin may be one of commission, i.e., doing what is prohibited, or one of omission, i.e., failing to do what is commanded, and in both cases implies knowledge of God's will (Jas 4:17). The Torah recognizes that a transgression could be unintentional, a sin of error, inadvertence or negligence (Lev 4:1-3, 27-28; 5:18; Num 15:22-29; Deut 19:4-6). Nevertheless, atonement by a sin offering was still required (Lev 4:2-3). In Scripture hamartia does not include mistakes, the imperfections that separate humanity from divinity, "falling short of the glory" (Rom 3:23). The plural form of "sins" could allude to multiple offenses or the repetition of a single offense.

are forgiven: Grk. aphiēmi, perf. pass., 3p-pl. See verse 11 above. In Greek culture this verb is the usual term for forgiving or canceling a financial debt. Luke presents the verb in the perfect tense, which emphasizes that the action is completed and finished. In contrast the parallel declaration in Matthew and Mark has the present tense. you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. Yeshua's declaration raises a couple of issues. First, how did the invalid feel about such a pronouncement? There is no indication that he sought forgiveness. He sought healing of his body. Of course, his lame condition might have been caused by sin (cf. John 5: 5, 14).

Second, Yeshua does not say, "I forgive you." Commentators generally assume that Yeshua is the one doing the forgiving. The verb is in the passive voice and thus Yeshua is only informing the invalid that forgiveness has been granted. The text is silent on the matter of what sins were forgiven. A breach of Torah did occur when the friends of the paralytic destroyed the roof of a house they did not own (cf. Ex 21:18, 28, 33; 22:4-5; Lev 24:19). By Jewish law anyone doing damage to someone else's premises is liable. (See Baba Kama 1:18; 32b).

However, "you" is singular, so Yeshua only addresses sins committed by the invalid. In doing so Yeshua tactfully does not list the man's sins. It was not likely a matter of capital crime or the Pharisees would have pointed out the man's offense as they do on other occasions. Presumptively the "sins" had occurred since the previous national atonement on Yom Kippur.

21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, "Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who is able to forgive sins, if not God alone?"

Reference: Isaiah 43:25; Matthew 9:3; Mark 2:6-7.

And: Grk. kai, conj. the scribes: pl. of Grk. ho grammateus refers to a legal specialist. In the LXX grammateus translates two Hebrew words: shotêr (Ex 5:6; Num 11:16; official; officer, BDB 1000c), and sophêr (Jdg 5:14; 2Sam 8:17; secretary, scribe, BDB 708) (DNTT 3:477f). In this context "scribe" functions as a synonym of "Torah-teachers" in verse 17. Scribes served as secretaries, teachers, lawyers, judges, and priests. Their vocation was devoted to interpretation and application of Jewish law. For more information on the professional development and service of scribes see the comment on Mark 1:22.

and: Grk. kai. the Pharisees: pl. of Grk. ho Pharisaios. See verse 17 above. began: Grk. archō, aor. mid., 3p-pl., may mean (1) to rule or (2) to begin or commence something. The second meaning applies here. to reason: Grk. dialogizomai, pres. mid. inf., to engage in a mental process involving back and forth movement of ideas; consider, ponder. The verb depicts a mental process that typically leads to confused conclusion (HELPS). saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 4 above. Here the verb indicates what was being said in the mind, not orally.

Who: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. speaks: Grk. laleō, pres. See verse 4 above. blasphemies: pl. of Grk. blasphēmia, abusive speech, which may be manifested as bad-mouthing, defamation, maligning, or slander. In the Besekh the term is sometimes directed at men and sometimes at God.

The Talmud lists refraining from blasphemy as one of the seven commandments given to Noah so that it was binding on all mankind (Sanh. 56a). In Leviticus 24:15 blasphemy is defined as "cursing" God, that is, treating His name with contempt or dishonor. Speech is considered blasphemy when it is against transcendent powers. The Mishnah says of blasphemy against God that it was only considered an offence if the divine name of God was uttered at the same time (Sanh. 7:7; Makk. 3:15; Ker. 1:1). Stoning is the penalty for blasphemy (Lev 24:16; Sanh. 7:5).

Who: Grk. tís. is able: Grk. dunamai, pres. See verse 12 above. The verb is also used in Mark 2:7. to forgive: Grk. aphiēmi, aor. inf. See verse 11 above and the previous verse. sins: pl. of Grk. hamartia. See the previous verse. if: Grk. ei, a conditional conjunction (followed by any verb) expresses a condition, thought of as real, or to denote assumptions, i.e. viewed as factual for the sake of argument (HELPS). not: Grk. , adv. See verse 10 above. Many versions translate ei mē with one word, "but" or "except." God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 1 above. alone: Grk. monos, adj., signifying the exclusion of any other entity; alone, only.

The wording of the question may seem strange. The critics make forgiveness a divine ability rather than a choice. Whether to forgive is a certainly a prerogative of ADONAI (Ex 34:6-7; Num 14:18; 30:5, 8, 12; Deut 21:8; 29:20; Josh 24:19; 1Kgs 8:30-39; 2Kgs 24:4; Ps 25:18; 79:9; Jer 31:34; Dan 9:19). On other occasions Yeshua identifies the Father as the one who forgives sins (Matt 6:14-15; Mark 11:25; Luke 23:34; cf. 1Jn 1:5, 9). In normal circumstances God would forgive sins on the ground of an animal sacrificed as a sin offering, whether in the annual Yom Kippur or in an individual offering.

The criticism and question may reflect putting the worst construction on Yeshua's words. First, they assume Yeshua means sins can be forgiven without a sacrifice. Second, they assume that Yeshua dares to act as a priest either to speak on behalf of God or to speak from his own authority. However, the question fails to recognize that in the Tanakh forgiveness was a blessing that could be granted from one person to another (Gen 50:17; Ex 10:17; 1Sam 25:28).

22 Now Yeshua having known their thoughts, answering he said to them, "Why are you reasoning in your hearts?

Reference: Matthew 9:4; Mark 2:8.

Now: Grk. de, conj. Yeshua: Grk. ho Iēsous. See verse 8 above. having known: Grk. epiginōskō, aor. part., 'to know about,' here meaning to know thoroughly, to know accurately and know well. their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. thoughts: pl. of Grk. ho dialogismos, the process of turning things over in one's mind in response to a problem or challenging event. Gill affirms that the clause declares the omniscience of Yeshua, being God incarnate (cf. Luke 6:8; 9:47; 11:17; 24:38). This was the conclusion of the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451).

Indeed, his disciples will later affirm "We know that you know all things" (John 16:30). Yes there are also mentions of limitations to Yeshua's knowledge (e.g., Matt 24:36; Mark 6:6; 13:32; Luke 7:9). However, Yeshua's knowledge exceeded the average human. And, he had an asset that most others of his time did not have. Being full of the Spirit meant he had complete access to the knowledge of the Father.

answering: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. part. See verse 5 above. he said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 4 above. to them: pl. of Grk. autos. Why: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See the previous verse. are you reasoning: Grk. dialogizomai, pres. mid. See the previous verse. in: Grk. en, prep. your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. hearts: pl. of Grk. kardia, the pumplike organ of blood circulation, used here fig. of selfhood or the combination of character, emotion, intelligence and the will. In the LXX kardia translates Heb. leb, inner man, mind, heart, will (BDB 523f). The noun is used to refer to the mind. Yeshua asks a confrontational question that challenges the critics to serious self-evaluation.

23 Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins have been forgiven you,' or to say, 'Get up and walk?'

Reference: Matthew 9:5; Mark 2:9.

Which: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See the verse 21 above. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. easier: Grk. eukopos, adj. used for comparison, capable of being done with easy labor, easy. to say: Grk. legō, aor. inf. See verse 4 above. The infinitive stresses result. Your: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. sins: pl. of Grk. hamartia. See verse 20 above. have been forgiven: Grk. aphiēmi, perf. pass. See verses 11 and 20 above. you: Grk. su. or: Grk. ē, conj. used to denote an alternative. The comparison is not so much focused on the ability to utter certain words, as the authority to produce the outcome of the action verbs. The forgiveness had already been accomplished.

to say: Grk. legō, aor. inf. Get up: Grk. egeirō, pres. imp., to rise or raise from a recumbent or lower position and is used with a variety of meanings: (1) to arouse from sleep, to awake; (2) to recall the dead to life; (3) to cause to rise or raise, from a seat or bed; or (4) to raise up, produce, cause to appear. The third meaning is intended here. The imperative mood signifies an authoritative command. and: Grk. kai, conj. walk: Grk. peripateō, pres. imp., to engage in pedestrian activity; go about; walk about, walk around, walk. The command enjoins the invalid to rejoin all other humans in the ability to walk.

Plummer suggests that it is easier to say, "Your sins are forgiven," because no one can prove that they are not forgiven. But the claim to heal with a word can be easily and quickly tested.

24 But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on the earth to forgive sins," he said to the one having been paralyzed, "I say to you, arise, and having taken up your stretcher go to your house."

Reference: Matthew 9:6; Mark 2:10-11.

But: Grk. de, conj. so that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed; in order that, so that. you may know: Grk. oida, perf. subj., to know in an objective sense, to have information about; also to have discernment about, to grasp the significance of the information received. The perfect tenses stresses complete certainty. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 8 above.

the Son: Grk. ho huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben (son, son of), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity, as the son of his father (Gen 5). (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor (e.g., Gen 32:32), as Yeshua is referred to as the son of David and Abraham (Matt 1:1); or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of (e.g., Ps 89:22; Dan 3:25; cf. 2Th 2:3), and this too applies here.

of Man: Grk. ho anthrōpos. See verse 10. In the LXX the expression "son of man" occurs 107 times and primarily translates the Heb. ben adam, lit. "son of Adam." The idiom occurs 13 times in a general sense of all mankind (e.g., Num 23:19, "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent"). This sense also occurs when God addresses two prophets as "son of man:" Ezekiel (Ezek 2:1; +92 times) and Daniel (Dan 8:17). The idiom is thoroughly Hebraic and has no counterpart in Greek culture.

However, the idiom "son of man" occurs one time to translate Aram. bar enash in Daniel's description of the pre-existent heavenly figure he saw in a vision:

"I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. 14 And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed." (Dan 7:13-14 NASU)

According to Jewish interpretation, the "Son of Man" of Daniel is a divine redeemer in human form (Boyarin 33). Jewish intertestamental literature expounded strongly on his identity and activity (cf. Book of Enoch, Section II, Chap. 46−48, 62−63, 69−71). David Flusser, Orthodox Jewish scholar and professor at Hebrew University, concurs saying,

"In all of the sources, the one resembling a man is portrayed in a consistent manner. The Son of Man has a superhuman, heavenly sublimity. He is the cosmic judge at the end of time. Sitting upon the throne of God, judging the entire human race with the aid of the heavenly hosts, he will consign the just to blessedness and the wicked to the pit of hell. Frequently he is identified with the Messiah, but he can also be identified with Enoch, who was taken up into heaven." (Flusser 112)

Christian scholars typically treat "Son of Man" in the context of Yeshua's ministry as representative of his identification with humanity, whereas "Son of God" pertains to his deity. Yet, in Hebraic thought these expressions mean just the opposite. When Yeshua began referring to himself as the "Son of Man" his listeners tried to fit his usage into their expectation. A few times Yeshua used "Son of Man" as a simple circumlocution (e.g., "the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head," Matt 18:20). Most of the time, however, Yeshua used the expression in accordance with common Jewish interpretation of the time.

While Yeshua chose not to associate himself publicly with the title "Messiah," he repeatedly identified himself with Daniel's cosmic judge from heaven (Luke 9:26; 12:40; 17:24; 21:27; 22:69). However, in applying the title to his mission Yeshua also embraced the role of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 (Luke 9:22, 44; 24:7). His suffering would have a redemptive purpose (Luke 11:30).

has: Grk. echō, pres., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. authority: Grk. exousia has four basic meanings: (1) freedom of choice, the legal right to act; (2) the ability to do something, capability, power; (3) authority, absolute power; and (4) ruling or official power as exercised by kings and officials (BAG). HELPS defines exousia as conferred or delegated empowerment. In the LXX exousia translates Heb. mimshal, dominion, kingdom (2Kgs 20:13; 2Chr 8:6) and Aram. sholtan, dominion (Dan 4:3, 26, 34; 7:6, 14, 27). In Daniel this authority or dominion belongs to God and the Son of Man.

on: Grk. epi, prep. the earth: Grk. ho gē. See verse 3 above. The noun is used here to denote the inhabited planet in contrast to heaven. to forgive: Grk. aphiēmi, pres. inf. See verses 11 and 20 above. The use of the infinitive probably stresses purpose, "to provide release." sins: pl. of Grk. hamartia. See verse 20 above. Yeshua was not talking about serving as a priest in a confessional. Ellis suggests that the reference to "authority to forgive" refers to the role of Suffering Servant (Isa 53:4-12; cf. Matt 8:17; Acts 8:32-33).

In reality the authority to forgive sins, i.e., to release from the penalty of sin, operates on two levels. First, as ADONAI incarnate Yeshua had the authority to personally expunge the heavenly record of a person's sins (cf. Ex 34:6-7; Isa 43:25; 44:22). See the note on verse 21 above. Second, as the Suffering Son of Man he was given the authority to be a permanent sin offering so that the grace of God's forgiveness would be available to all (cf. Isa 53:5-6; Luke 23:34).

Yet, there is another possible level of meaning. Yeshua could have meant "son of man" (lowercase) as idiomatic for "human being." In other words, human beings have the authority from God to forgive sins. Indeed this is the interpretation of the crowd as reported by Matthew: "But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men" (Matt 9:8 NASU). Indeed Yeshua repeatedly urged his disciples to be willing to forgive (Matt 6:14; Mark 11:25; Luke 17:3-4). Yeshua will later emphasize this authority to his apostles (John 20:23).

he said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 4 above. to the one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having been paralyzed: Grk. paraluō, perf. pass. part. See verse 18 above. I say: Grk. legō, pres. to you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. get up: Grk. egeirō, pres. imp. See the previous verse. and: Grk. kai, conj. having taken up: Grk. airō, aor. part., may mean (1) to cause to move upward; raise up, lift; or (2) move by lifting or taking from one position to another; take away, remove, carry off. The second meaning applies here.

your: Grk. su. stretcher: Grk. ho klinidion. See verse 19 above. go: Grk. poreuomai, pres. mid. imp., may mean (1) to move from one area to another; to go or to make one's way, journey, travel; or (2) in an ethical sense, to conduct oneself, live, walk. The first meaning applies here. to: Grk. eis, prep. your: Grk. su. house: Grk. oikos, a structure for habitation; dwelling or house.

25 And immediately having stood up before them, and having taken up that on which he was lying, he departed to his house glorifying God.

Reference: Matthew 9:7; Mark 2:12.

And: Grk. kai, conj. immediately: Grk. parachrēma, adv., instantly, immediately, on the spot. The term occurs 18 times in the Besekh, and a favorite of Luke who uses it ten times in this Gospel and six times in Acts. having stood up: Grk. anistēmi, aor. part., to rise, stand up or get up and in its ordinary use refers to the physical motion of transition from a sitting or prone position or simply standing. before: Grk. enōpion, prep. See verse 18 above. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The pronoun includes Yeshua, the scribes and Pharisees and the common people in the house.

and having taken up: Grk. airō, aor. part. See the previous verse. that on: Grk. epi, prep. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. he was lying: Grk. katakeimai, impf. mid., be in a reclining posture, to lie abed from sickness. Bengel notes that "He now carried the bed which had carried him," and Lumby adds "the proof of his sickness became the proof of his cure." he departed: Grk. aperchomai, aor. See verse 13 above. to: Grk. eis, prep. his: Grk. autos. house: Grk. oikos. See the previous verse.

glorifying: Grk. doxazō, pres. part., enhance esteem or reputation through word (of praise) or action to honor. The verb properly means to ascribe weight by recognizing real substance and truth (HELPS). God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 1 above. Luke alone records that he glorified God. Thus, the man gave credit to God for the healing and vocalized his praise, as did others after being healed (Luke 13:13; 17:15; 18:43; Acts 3:8-9). His four friends no doubt joined in the praise as they shared the good news with his family members and neighbors.

Gill goes even further to say "he glorified Jesus Christ as God, who he knew must be God, by forgiving his sins, and curing his disease; he proclaimed his divine power, and ascribed greatness to him; he confessed him as the Messiah, and owned him as his Savior, and became subject to him as his Lord." Unfortunately, the apostolic narrative records no such outcome.

26 And amazement seized all and they began glorifying God, and became full of awe, saying, "We have seen remarkable things today."

Reference: Mark 2:12.

And: Grk. kai, conj. amazement: Grk. ekstasis, the noun reflects a mental displacement from a normal condition; being amazed or astounded over something beyond what one normally thinks possible. seized: Grk. lambanō, aor. See verse 5 above. all: pl. of Grk. hapas, adj., a totality of something; altogether, the whole, everything, each and every one in a group. The "all" who were stunned into amazement must be everyone who witnessed the miraculous healing. It's very possible there were people in the crowd who knew the invalid and for whom the impact would be the greater.

and: Grk. kai. they began glorifying: Grk. doxazō, impf., 3p-pl. See the previous verse. God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 1 above. In this matter those giving praise to God were probably the common people. Scribes and Pharisees are never seen glorifying God after witnessing the miracles of Yeshua. More often than not they had a negative reaction. and: Grk. kai. became full: Grk. pimplēmi, aor. pass., 3p-pl. See verse 7 above. of awe: Grk. phobos, may mean (1) the feeling of need to escape from or avoid a threat; fear; or (2) feeling of respect; reverence, awe. The second meaning is intended here.

saying: Grk. legō, pl. pres. part. See verse 4 above. We have seen: Grk. horaō, aor., 1p-pl. See verse 2 above. remarkable things: pl. of Grk. paradoxos, adj., contrary to opinion or expectation; extraordinary, strange, wonderful. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh, but it does occur in the Apocrypha (Judith 13:13; Wisdom 5:2; Sirach 43:25; 2Macc 9:24; 4Macc 2:14). today: Grk. sēmeron, adv., now, this day, today. Again, this declaration probably came from the crowd of common people who witnessed the miracle.

Outreach Among Sinners, 5:27-32

27 And after these things He went out and he observed a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax office, and He said to him, "Follow Me."

Reference: Matthew 9:9; Mark 2:14.

And: Grk. kai, conj. after: Grk. meta, prep., which may be used (1) as a marker of association; with, among; or (2) as a sequential marker; after, behind. The second usage is intended here. these things: of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 6 above. The temporal clause introduces an event that occurred after the calling of the fishermen, the healing of the man with a skin disease and the healing of the invalid. He went out: Grk. exerchomai, aor. See verse 8 above. Yeshua is the subject of the verb. The verb might only refer to departing from his house or possibly going outside the city.

and: Grk. kai. he observed: Grk. theaomai, aor. mid., to look upon with special interest; behold, look at, take notice of. Most versions translate the verb as "see," but this verb indicates more than merely noticing. Yeshua may have observed this man for a few minutes before making his approach. a tax collector: Grk. telōnēs, a collector of taxes or other revenues (customs and tolls) from Jews on behalf of the Roman government. Jewish tax collectors were independent contractors, not civil servants, and earned their income from fees charged to individual taxpayers for banking services.

Unfortunately, the narrative does not satisfy our curiosity of how Levi, as a member of the tribe of Levi, should become a tax collector. As a tax collector he would have been literate in Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic and Latin, and experienced in keeping records. See the Additional Note below on Jewish Tax Collection. named: Grk. onoma is used in its central sense of identifying someone with a proper name. In Hebrew literature "name" also carries the extended sense of qualities, powers, attributes or reputation.

Levi: Grk. Leui, a transliteration of Heb. Levi ("attached"). Levi is identified as being "the son of Alphaeus" (Mark 2:14). Scholars generally discount a sibling relationship with Jacob ("James"), the less, also a son of Alphaeus (Matt 10:3), but the coincidence of the distinctive name Alphaeus does imply some kind of familial connection. It seems significant that unlike other apostles with two names of different languages (e.g., Simon Peter), Levi had two Hebrew names.

Levi's other name was Matthew (Grk. Matthaios, Luke 6:15), which transliterates the Hebrew name Mattityahu ("gift of YHVH"). Both names are distinguished in Israelite history. In the Tanakh, Levi is the third son of Jacob and Leah, and his tribe was a strong supporter of Moses during the wilderness years (Ex 32:26). The name Matthew hearkens back to a great Israelite hero, Mattathias the Maccabean and Jewish priest, who rallied Jews against the tyranny of Antiochus Epiphanes. Mattathias has a central role in the story of Hanukkah. Like his namesakes, Levi-Matthew was no doubt of the tribe of Levi (Stern).

sitting: Grk. kathēmai, pres. mid. part. See verse 17 above. at: Grk. epi, prep. the tax office: Grk. ho telōnion, a custom-house, toll house; collector's office (Mounce). The term occurs only three times in the Besekh, all in reference to where Yeshua met Levi. The toll-house in Capernaum where Levi worked was an important center commanding both the routes from the Sea of Galilee and also the great land road that ran from Damascus to the Mediterranean. Custom could thus be levied on all goods carried by ship or caravan.

Archaeological evidence from the region concern the toll on fish, and it is possible that a toll on catches of fish was collected at Capernaum as well. If so, Levi would have known the fishermen-disciples, and probably Yeshua himself, who used Capernaum as his headquarters. This would explain Levi's immediate and total response to Yeshua's call to discipleship (DNTT 3:757).

and: Grk. kai. He said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 4 above. The subject of the verb is Yeshua. to him: Grk. autos; i.e., Levi. Follow: Grk. akoloutheō, pres. imp. See verse 11 above. The imperative mood of the verb conveys entreaty rather than the finality of command, but does convey urgency (DM 176). The present tense of the command emphasizes to start and continue following. Me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person.

Additional Note: Jewish Tax Collectors

In 1 BC Caesar Augustus imposed a direct form of taxation in which each province was required to pay a wealth (or income) tax of about 1% and a flat poll tax of one drachma on each adult. The Roman government also created a wide variety of taxes on commerce such as sales taxes, highway tolls, customs at border crossings and assorted government fees. The income and poll taxes relied on a regular census being taken to evaluate the taxable number of people and their income/wealth status (UNRV).

After the death of Herod the Great and the appointment of a Roman procurator, Jewish tax collectors in Judea worked directly for the Imperial Treasury under the supervision of foreign publicani and assisted in the census taking and collecting the taxes that had been assessed. However, in Galilee tax collectors served Herod Antipas directly. Plummer notes that the Talmud distinguishes two classes of tax collectors: the Gabbai or tax-gatherer (e.g. of income-tax or polltax), and the Mokhes or custom-house officer. Levi was one of the latter. Edersheim describes the onerous taxation by customs officers:

"There was tax and duty upon all imports and exports; on all that was bought and sold; bridge-money, road-money, harbor-dues, town-dues, &c. ... On goods the ad valorem duty amounted to from 2½ to 5 per cent, and on articles of luxury to even 12½ per cent. But even this was as nothing, compared to the vexation of being constantly stopped on the journey, having to unload all one's pack-animals, when every bale and package was opened, and the contents tumbled about, private letters opened, and the Mokhes ruled supreme in his insolence and rapacity." (1:517)

Jewish tax collectors were considered sinners, primarily because of who they worked for, not their fiduciary integrity. Moreover, the tax collectors were disobeying the Torah prohibition of numbering and thus helping to perpetuate tyranny of the Romans and the Herod family. Paying taxes using the Roman coins with Caesar's imprint was tantamount to declaring that Caesar replaced God as the rightful King of Israel. Finally, the taxes being collected were regarded as too heavy and the equivalent of robbery. By virtue of this viewpoint a tax collector was automatically considered a robber and therefore a "sinner."

Being labeled a "sinner" the Jewish tax collector faced a number of restrictions. He was generally a religious outcast, which meant he would be unable to attend synagogue services. He could not serve as a judge or give testimony as a witness in a court case. No alms would be accepted from him if the money came from tax profits (Baba Kamma 10:2). The Mishnah declared that if tax collector entered a house, all within it became unclean (Tohoroth 7:6). Living as a pariah to the religious elite one can easily understand how tax collectors, such as Levi, were happy to have Yeshua's company.

Christian commentators generally charge the Jewish tax collectors in the first century with being crooks and guilty of fraud and extortion. Yet, nowhere in the apostolic writings is the integrity of any Jewish tax collector actually impugned. None are accused of theft. To smear a class or group of people with broad generalizations and no evidence of actual wrongdoing is called defamation. In reality the men Yeshua accused of committing robbery were among the religious elite (Matt 21:13; 23:14, 25; Luke 11:29).

28 And leaving everything, and rising up he began to follow him.

Reference: Matthew 9:9; Mark 2:14.

And: Grk. kai, conj. leaving: Grk. kataleipō, aor. part., to leave behind or to leave to oneself, here the former everything; abandon, desert, forsake. everything: of Grk. pas, adj., "all things." See verse 9 above. This verbal clause is more dramatic than aphiēmi pas used in verse 11 of Simon Peter leaving his fishing business. Simon "released" his boat and equipment in the care of family members whereas Levi totally abandoned his tax collection business.

and rising up: Grk. anistēmi, aor. part. See verse 25 above. The action here contrasts with the fact that Levi was "sitting" when Yeshua addressed him in the previous verse. he began to follow: Grk. akoloutheō, impf. See verse 11 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Yeshua. The verb represents an attitude of commitment and loyalty, but also physical mobility to walk away from the tax office and join with Yeshua. While not stated Levi probably submitted his resignation to the tax overseer of the region and surrendered any records and tax revenues he had collected.

29 And Levi made a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large group of tax collectors and others, who were reclining with them.

Reference: Matthew 9:10; Mark 2:15.

And: Grk. kai, conj. Levi: Grk. Leui. See verse 27 above. made: Grk. poieō, aor. See verse 6 above. a great: Grk. megas, adj., exceeding a standard and therefore impressive. The focus here is on degree. banquet: Grk. dochē, a banquet, feast or reception. This term occurs only in Luke. The term does occur in the LXX for Heb. mishteh in reference to someone hosting a banquet (Gen 21:8; 26:30; Esth 1:3; 5:4, 8). A "great banquet" suggests perhaps a variety of food and generous portions. for him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Yeshua.

in: Grk. en, prep. his: Grk. autos; Levi. house: Grk. oikia may mean either (1) a habitable structure, house; or (2) fig. a group within a house, household or family. The first meaning is intended here, although the use of oikia might hint at Levi having a wife and family. Home ownership indicates a degree of wealth. The house must have been large to accommodate the number of men in attendance (Plummer).

and: Grk. kai. there was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. a large: Grk. polus, adj. See verse 6 above. The adjective is used to emphasize the number in attendance. group: Grk. ochlos. See verse 1 above. of tax collectors: pl. of Grk. telōnēs. See verse 27 above. and: Grk. kai. others: of Grk. allos, adj., other or another of something, used here of friends of Levi in attendance who were not tax collectors. who: pl. of Grk. hos, relative pronoun. were: Grk. eimi, impf.

reclining: Grk. katakeimai, pl. pres. mid. part. See verse 25 above. Many versions add "at table," to denote the verb usage here as relevant to eating. Some versions incorrectly translate the verb as "sitting at table" (ASV, NET, NRSV, RSV, WE). with: Grk. meta, prep. them: of Grk. autos. Reclining was customary for festival or banquet meals. To recline does not mean being fully prone as one might be on a bed to sleep. Rabbinic custom specified that reclining was not lying on the back or on the right side, but only on the left side to facilitate eating with the right hand (Pesachim 108a).

With a table for dining the men would be stretched out on the floor with their heads facing a low table, thus enabling them to reach the food by hand. The table would certainly not have been a high table as found in modern homes. Edersheim says the low rectangle wooden table was common to the East with the dinner guests on three sides and one end open for the food service (815). The regular word for a dining table is Grk. trapeza, which is mentioned in some passages (Matt 15:27; Mark 7:28; Luke 16:21; 22:21, 30; Acts 16:34).

The parallel narratives also mention the reclining of Yeshua and the participants at the meal. No explanation is offered concerning the relative reclining positions of the men in the room. The Talmud provides a description of the table position and layout of a Sage having a meal with disciples (Baba Bathra 57b). At a dinner of a Sage and his disciples it was customary for the one next in rank to be on the Sage's left and the third in rank on his right (Berachot 46b). Yeshua would have been given the prime location at the "head" of the table.

30 And the Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling toward his disciples, saying, "Because of why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?"

Reference: Matthew 9:11; Mark 2:16.

And: Grk. kai, conj. the Pharisees: Grk. ho Pharisaios. See verse 17 above. and: Grk. kai. their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. scribes: pl. of Grk. grammateus. See verse 21 above. The pronoun identifies these scribes as belonging to the Pharisee party. The plural form indicates at least two of each. Plummer suggests that these men were not invited guests, but had entered the house during the meal, like the woman that was a sinner in the house of Simon (Luke 7:37).

began grumbling: Grk. gonguzō, impf., 3p-pl., (originally derived from a Greek word meaning to speak inarticulately, mumble, mutter) may mean (1) fault-finding muttering; to grumble, murmur, complain; or (2) community buzz without a negative component; whisper. The first meaning applies here. toward: Grk. pros, prep. The preposition emphasizes the direction the critics looked while making their accusation. his: Grk. autos; i.e., Yeshua. disciples: Grk. mathētēs (from manthanō, to learn), one who learns through instruction from a teacher; adherent, learner, pupil, disciple.

In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the apostolic narratives and corresponds to the Heb. talmid (SH-8527), a student of a Jewish Sage or Torah scholar (Heb. rabbi). The term "disciple" is used most often for followers of Yeshua of which there were many, but especially the Twelve. Discipleship for these men had the straight forward meaning of investing in Yeshua total authority over their lives and granting absolute loyalty to him. See my article Disciples of Yeshua.

On this occasion the "disciples" were those previously called, but not the full Twelve who are identified in the next chapter. In the parallel narratives of Matthew and Mark the critics ask the question regarding Yeshua. In other words the disciples were not reclining at table but observing the meal. saying: Grk. legō, pl. pres. part. See verse 4 above. The verb introduces the quoted text of a question of the critics, in reality directed at Yeshua while appearing to question the disciples.

Because of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 5 above. Bible versions do not translate the preposition, but its usage means "what reason can you give for?" why: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 21 above. do you eat: Grk. esthiō, pres., 2p-pl., to consume food. The second person implies application to Yeshua. and: Grk. kai. drink: Grk. pinō, pres., 2p-pl., to take in a liquid, to drink, usually of water or wine. with: Grk. meta, prep. See verse 27 above. the tax collectors: pl. of Grk. ho telōnēs. Se verse 27 above. and: Grk. kai. sinners: pl. of Grk. hamartōlos. See verse 8 above. In this case the "others" labeled "sinners" could be regarded as such simply because the house of a tax collector was considered unclean (Tohoroth 7:6).

31 And answering Yeshua said to them, "Those being well have no need of a physician, but those having a sickness.

Reference: Matthew 9:12; Mark 2:17.

And: Grk. kai, conj. answering: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. part. See verse 5 above. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 8 above. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 4 above. to: Grk. pros, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun, which refers to the critics who posed the accusatory question in the previous verse. Those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. being well: Grk. hugiainō, pl. pres. part., be in a state of well being, here with the focus on physical health. have: Grk. echō, pres., 3p-pl. See verse 24 above. no: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; no, not.

need: Grk. chreia, state or experience of necessity; need. of a physician: Grk. iatros, a practitioner of medicine; doctor, physician. In the LXX iatros translates the Qal participle of Heb. rapha, to heal, lit. "one who heals," first in 2Chronicles 16:12 where King Asa of Judah was criticized for not seeking God when his feet became diseased, but instead sought physicians (cf. Jer 8:22). For a complete review of the role of the physician in ancient Jewish culture see the article "The Physician in Ancient Israel: His Status and Function" by Nigel Allan.

but: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 14 above. those: pl. of Grk. ho. having: Grk. echō, pl. pres. part. a sickness: Grk. kakōs, adv., badly, used here of being in a miserable physical condition, illness or sickness. Plummer comments that Yeshua employs an argumentum ad hominem (attack on a person's character), partly ironical. In their own minds the Pharisees had no need of a "physician," while being in the greatest need of one. Ellis observes that over against the Pharisaic idea of salvation by segregation, Yeshua establishes the new principle of salvation by association.

32 I have not come to call righteous ones but sinners to repentance."

Reference: Matthew 9:13; Mark 2:17.

I have not: Grk. ou, adv. come: Grk. erchomai, perf. See verse 7 above. to call: Grk. kaleō, aor. inf., to call and may mean (1) express something aloud, say; (2) solicit participation, call, invite; or (3) identify by name or give a term to. The second meaning applies here. righteous ones: of Grk. dikaios, adj., being in accord with Torah standards for acceptable behavior, upright or just. In Scripture a righteous person is one who is innocent of wrongdoing and one who lives in a manner pleasing to God. Yeshua engages in a play on words, since the Pharisees considered themselves to be righteous. They viewed observing their legalistic traditions as the standard of righteousness.

but: Grk. alla, conj. sinners: pl. of Grk. hamartōlos. See verse 8 above. Yeshua no doubt uses the term according to its Torah definition, one who transgresses God's commandments. to: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." repentance: Grk. metanoia, a serious change of mind and heart about a previous point of view or course of behavior. The words "to repentance" are peculiar to Luke, and not found in the parallel texts of Matthew and Mark. The noun occurs 22 times in the Besekh, half in Luke-Acts. In ancient Greek literature the noun is rarely used (LSJ). In the LXX metanoia occurs only one time and without Hebrew equivalent in Proverbs 14:15, "The guileless believe every word, but the astute one comes to repentance" (ABP).

Metanoia also occurs a few times in the Apocrypha (Sirach 44:16; Wisdom 12:10, 19). The noun occurs in Josephus to represent especially the change of mind of those who have begun to abhor their errors and misdeeds, and have determined to enter upon a better course of life, so that it embraces both a recognition of sin and sorrow for it and hearty amendment, the tokens and effects of which are good deeds (Ant. XIII, 11:3). The idea of turning from evil behavior, exhorted by the Hebrew prophets, is expressed by the Hebrew verb shuv, which is translated in the LXX with epistrephō (e.g. Amos 4:6; Hos 5:4; 6:1).

The Hebrew noun for repentance shuvah means to turn away from evil in the sense of renouncing and disowning sin, and to turn toward the good or becoming obedient to God's will expressed in the commandments (TWOT 2:909). The noun occurs one time in Isaiah 30:15, "For thus says ADONAI Elohim, the Holy One of Israel: 'By repentance and rest you are saved, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you were not willing'" (TLV). True repentance requires honest self-evaluation, which should lead the sincere person to identify any number of faults for which confession is necessary.

Repentance was actually a virtue in Jewish culture. The daily prayer, Amidah, which dates from the 5th century BC, included repentance in the fifth benediction, which reads in its original Jerusalem form, "Return us, O Lord, to Thee, and we shall return. Renew our days as before. Blessed are You, Who has pleasure in repentance" (quoted in Lane 596). This petition is based on Lamentations 5:21, "Bring us back to You, ADONAI, and we will return. Renew our days as of old" (TLV).

The Qumran community emphasized the call to repentance by demanding from their members that they be converted from all evil (1QS 5:1) and return to every commandment of the Torah (1QS 5:8) (DNTT 1:357). From a Jewish perspective, then, repentance has three important elements: (1) recognition of one's behavior as sinful; (2) imploring pardon with regret and remorse (cf. 2Cor 7:10); and (3) abandonment of sin and performance of deeds that demonstrate repentance (cf. Acts 26:20). If any of these elements is missing repentance is not considered genuine, but deceitful.

Especially important is a commitment to change, to stop sinful practices, as the Scripture says,

"Wash and make yourselves clean. Put away the evil of your deeds from before My eyes. Cease to do evil." (Isa 1:16 TLV)

"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous one his thoughts, let him return to ADONAI, so He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." (Isa 55:7 TLV)

Noteworthy are anecdotes in the Besekh of people cautioned to "sin no more," such as such as the man Yeshua healed at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:14), and the woman caught in adultery (John 8:11). Thus, the "change of mind" represented by metanoia is not just an intellectual agreement to a different point of view, but a commitment to a change in behavior.

Question Regarding Fasting, 5:33-39

33 Moreover these said to him, "The disciples of Yochanan often fast and offer prayers, likewise also those of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink."

Reference: Matthew 9:14; Mark 2:18.

The Synoptic Narratives all report the following incident but do not agree on the setting, although they are agreed that it occurred after the calling of Levi. Luke appears to place this event in the context of Yeshua dining at Levi's house or shortly afterward.

Moreover: Grk. de, conj. The conjunction introduces an addition to the critical challenge in verse 30. these: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun; i.e., the Pharisees and scribes mentioned in verse 30. said: Grk. legō, aor., 3p-pl. See verse 4 above. to: Grk. pros, prep. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Yeshua. Mark states that at the time the following question was asked both the disciples of Yochanan and the Pharisees were observing a fast. The fact that both groups were fasting while Yeshua was eating indicates observance of a non-obligatory fast that they considered important for all Jews.

The disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 30 above. of Yochanan: Grk. Iōannēs, which attempts to transliterate the Heb. Yochanan ("John" in Christian Bibles) and means "YHVH is gracious," an apt description of the one who would prepare the way of the Messiah (Stern 15). Early English Bible versions shortened Iōannēs to four letters and the Mace New Testament (1729) was the first to use the spelling of "John." Yochanan was a cousin (degree unknown) of Yeshua, born in Hebron just six months before Yeshua (cf. Luke 1:26, 36, 56-57). Yochanan was most likely born in March, 3 BC, six months before Yeshua. (See my nativity commentary on Luke 1.)

Yochanan was a prophet from a priestly family, who proclaimed a message of repentance, announced the coming of the Messiah, superintended the immersion of many Israelites, including Yeshua. Many Jews followed him as their teacher (cf. John 3:25; 4:1; Acts 18:25; 19:1-3). Yochanan's public ministry began in the Autumn of AD 26. (See my commentary on John 1:6). Plummer observes that based on John 3:26 Yochanan's disciples must have been jealous of Yeshua's disciples, and therefore ready to criticize. Perhaps they were also jealous of the freedom from legalistic restraints which his disciples seemed to enjoy.

often: pl. of Grk. puknos, adj., frequent, often recurring. The adjective is used as a contrast to the actual requirement of Torah. Matthew has Grk. polus to denote frequency, but Mark omits mention of the frequency. fast: Grk. nēsteuō, pres., 3p-pl., to abstain from food, generally for a religious purpose; fast. See my article Fasting. There is no actual requirement in the Torah to fast, but Jews interpret the requirement to "humble oneself" on Yom Kippur (Lev 16:29; 23:27) as fasting. After the exile four specific national fast-days in addition to Yom Kippur were established, at least one in each season (Zech 7:3-5; 8:19). However, by the first century twenty-five non-obligatory fast days had been added in memory of certain troubles that befell Israel. The average Israelite saw no value in fasting beyond the required five national fast days. See the article on fasting in the Jewish Encyclopedia.

and: Grk. kai, conj. offer: Grk. poieō, pres. mid., 3p-pl. See verse 6 above. prayers: pl. of Grk. deēsis, to stand in need of something and therefore to plead or beg of God. In the Besekh deēsis is always used of a request to God for meeting a need. The clause "and offer prayers" is peculiar to Luke's account of this incident. Use of "often" in relation to prayers might suggest attendance at daily synagogue prayer services, which corresponded to the prayer services at the Jerusalem temple.

likewise: Grk. homoiōs, adv. See verse 10 above. also: Grk. kai. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. of the Pharisees: pl. of Grk. ho Pharisaios. See verse 17 above. The phrase "those of the Pharisees" denotes membership in the Pharisee party. Some Pharisees were reputed to fast twice a week on Monday and Thursday (Luke 18:12), because it was believed that Moses began his forty-day fast on Mount Sinai on a Thursday and ended it on a Monday (Plummer). The weekly fasting would be in addition to the thirty other days in the year devoted to fasting.

but: Grk. de, conj. yours: pl. of Grk. ho su, lit. "those of you." eat: Grk. esthiō, pres., 3p-pl. See verse 30 above. and: Grk. kai. drink: Grk. pinō, pres., 3p-pl. See verse 30 above. In the parallel passages the disciples of Yeshua are accused of at least not fasting during the times observed by the Pharisees, but the accusation could also imply Yeshua's disciples did not fast at all. The average Israelite might well disdain a requirement that did not originate from the Torah. Luke presents the accusation in stronger terms with the sense "your disciples are feasting while we are fasting."

34 And Yeshua said to them, "Are you able to make the sons of the bride-chamber to fast while the bridegroom is with them?

And: Grk. kai, conj. Yeshua: Grk. ho Iēsous. See verse 8 above. said: Grk. legō, aor.. See verse 4 above. to: Grk. pros, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., the men mentioned in the previous verse. Are you able: Grk. dunamai, pres. pass., 2p-pl. See verse 12 above. to make: Grk. poieō, aor. inf. See verse 6 above. the sons: pl. of Grk. ho huios. See verse 10 above. The translation of "wedding guests" found in a number of versions is incorrect. The "sons" or "attendants" (LSB, NASB, NRSVUE) or "friends" (NIV, NKJV) are companions of the bridegroom who would bring him gifts and rejoice with him (cf. Jdg 14:11; 1Macc 9:39). Their services and gifts were then reciprocated on the occasion of their marriages (Baba Bathra 144b; Kethuboth 12a).

of the bride-chamber: Grk. ho numphōn, the nuptial chamber in which the bride and bridegroom consummated their marriage. Many versions omit translating the term, perhaps out of misplaced sensitivity. Some versions translate the term incorrectly as "bridegroom" (DRA, EHV, LSB, MEV, NASU, NKJV, TLV, WEB). The term numphōn is not found in earlier classical Greek and in only one book of the LXX (Tobit 6:13, 16 RSV). The companions of the groom are called "sons of the bride-chamber" because they remained with him at all times to keep him sober and even brought him to the bridal chamber when it was time for consummation and later verified the tokens of virginity. Thus, they could be called upon as witnesses to attest to the bridegroom's integrity and the bride's virginity.

to fast: Grk. nēsteuō, aor. inf. See the previous verse. Fasting was never done during a feast day. Yeshua employs satire in this parabolic saying. Imagine someone telling companions of the bridegroom they had to fast during the wedding feast. Could the legalist make them fast? Never! Fasting would negate the joy and insult the host. while: Grk. en hos, lit. "in which." the bridegroom: Grk. ho numphios, a bridegroom, which may be distinguished from anēr, "husband." The mention of "bridegroom" alludes to the nature of Jewish marriage, which was essentially a two ceremony process.

To begin the groom would perform erusin, "betrothal," a procedure in which a man acquired the bride of his choice in the presence of witnesses by giving a coin or ring to the prospective bride and her acceptance of the token. Erusin made the woman a legal wife and her status could only be changed by divorce or death. The second ceremony was nisuin ("elevation") in which the groom took the bride into a room or his house for consummation. The Hebrew word nisuin comes from a verb that means to lift up, to carry or to take. The wife has left her father's authority and now belongs fully to her husband. See my web article Marriage in Ancient Israel.

is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. with: Grk. meta, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos. The pronoun alludes to the companions of the bridegroom and Yeshua thus applies the parabolic saying to himself and his disciples. Several passages in the Besekh depict the imagery of the Messiah as a bridegroom and the Kingdom being inaugurated by a wedding (Stern 838). (See Matt 22:1-14; Mark 2:18-20; John 3:28-30.)

35 But days will come, namely when the bridegroom will be taken from them, then they will fast in those days."

Reference: Matthew 9:15; Mark 2:19.

But: Grk. de, conj. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera. See verse 17 above. The plural noun is used of an appointed time. will come: Grk. erchomai, fut. mid., 3p-pl. See verse 7 above. The action is in fulfillment of prophecy. The clause contrasts with the joyous days of the wedding feast. namely: Grk. kai, conj. The conjunction introduces an explanation of the previous temporal clause (Plummer). when: Grk. hotan, temporal marker; when, whenever. The term properly means, "at the time when the condition is met" (Thayer). the bridegroom: Grk. ho numphios. See the previous verse.

will be taken: Grk. apairō, aor. pass. subj., to lift, carry away, raise up, to lift off, hence the aspect of removal; remove, take away. This verb occurs only three times in the Besekh, all in this parabolic saying (Matt 9:15; Mark 2:20). In context the verb most likely refers to the lifting up of Yeshua on the cross (cf. Acts 8:33). from: Grk. apo, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The pronoun again alludes to the companions of the bridegroom, which Yeshua applies to his disciples. In contrast to the joyous nature of a wedding Yeshua introduces the shocking possibility of the bridegroom's death. In this prediction there could be an allusion to a well-known story in Jewish history.

The book of Tobit records a story in which a woman was betrothed to a man with six brothers who was killed by a demon before their marriage could be consummated. By the law of yibbum she was wed to the next brother in line and he also was killed. The story continues that she was wed to the remaining brothers who were all likewise killed before consummation (3:8, 15; 6:13; 7:11). The important detail in the story of Tobit is that the death of the bridegrooms was the result of a demonic attack and demons are controlled by Satan. By this statement Yeshua anticipated his death at the hands of his enemies as a result of Satan's influence (Luke 22:3; John 13:2; Col 2:15).

then: Grk. tote, temporal adv. that focuses on a time or circumstance that is closely associated with what precedes in the narrative; at that time, then, thereupon. they will fast: Grk. nēsteuō, fut., 3p-pl. See verse 33 above. The "companions" of the bridegroom will fast of their own accord, not because of being commanded. in: Grk. en, prep. those: pl. of Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun typically used to refer to a noun (person or thing) immediately preceding in the Greek text; that, that one there. days: pl. of Grk. ho hēmera. The clause refers to the days following when the bridegroom is taken. In Scripture fasting often occurred as an act of mourning in the aftermath of death (e.g. 1Sam 31:13; 2Sam 1:12).

Mark's account says "in that day" meaning that on the day of crucifixion. So, while the rest of Jerusalem was celebrating the festival of Passover with delicious meals, the disciples would fast as a result of their grief even though fasting is prohibited during a festival. How could the disciples eat a fellowship meal and celebrate when all their hopes had been suddenly extinguished? However, none of the apostolic narratives mention the disciples fasting after the crucifixion.

In fact two days afterward in post-resurrection appearances Yeshua ate a meal with two disciples in Emmaus (Luke 24:30) and the disciples had food on the table when Yeshua appeared in the upper room (Luke 24:41-43). It is possible the prediction pertains to the ten days after the ascension when the disciples were in constant prayer awaiting Pentecost (Acts 1:14). The next mention of fasting is at least fifteen years later (Acts 13:2).

36 Now also he was speaking a parable to them that "No one having torn a patch from a new garment, puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will tear the new, and the old will not match the patch from the new.

Reference: Matthew 9:16; Mark 2:21.

Now: Grk. de, conj. also: Grk. kai, conj. he was speaking: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 4 above. a parable: Grk. parabolē, a brief and instructive saying full of substance, or meaning involving some likeness or comparison to encourage a new perspective, sometimes with admonitory force; illustration, parable, or proverb. In the LXX parabolē translates Heb. mashal, oracle, parable, proverb, first in Numbers 23:7. to: Grk. pros, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., the Pharisees and scribes mentioned in verse 30. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 8 above. The conjunction is used here to introduce a direct quotation. Most versions do not translate the conjunction.

No one: Grk. oudeis, adj. See verse 5 above. having torn: Grk. schizō, aor. part., cause to be in parts through force, here to tear or rend. a patch: Grk. epiblēma, something thrown over, covering; a piece of cloth used to cover; patch. from: Grk. apo, prep. a new: Grk. kainos, adj., new, has three applications in the Besekh: (1) of recent origin or unused; (2) different and superior in quality relative to something old with no criticism of the old; or (3) different in reaction generated for something not previously present. The second meaning is intended here. garment: Grk. himation, a covering for the body, generally used of clothing or apparel without reference to its quality.

puts it: Grk. epiballō, pres., to move something so as to put it over or on something; lay on, put on. on: Grk. epi, prep. an old: Grk. palaios, adj., no longer new, worn by use, the worse for wear, old. garment: Grk. himation. otherwise: Grk. ei de mēge, a negative construction, lit. "but if not." This Greek construction is frequent in Luke (verse 37 below; 10:6; 13:9; 14:32) (Plummer). In other words, "if he commits this folly." he will tear: Grk. schizō, fut. the new: Grk. ho kainos. and: Grk. kai. the old: Grk. ho palaios. will not: Grk. ou, adv. match: Grk. sumphōneō, fut., originally a harmony of voices, but here regarding the compatibility of cloth to fit together; match.

the patch: Grk. ho epiblēma. from: Grk. apo. the new: Grk. ho kainos. Plummer observes that both Matthew and Mark represent the patch as coming from an unused piece of cloth. To tear it from a new garment is an aggravation of the folly. A good garment is ruined in order to mend, and that very ineffectually, an old one. Yeshua does not explain what this parable has to do with fasting, but "the old garment" must be an allusion to the legalism of the Pharisees manifested by their insistence on frequent fasting. By this parable and the one following the "new" covenant will not be simply superimposed on the Pharisaic system, as was later affirmed by the apostles (Acts 15:1-2, 5-11).

Ellis suggests the two parables illustrate the dichotomy between Christianity and traditional Judaism (107). This is an odd statement considering Christianity did not exist at this time and there were many Judaisms. Yeshua was not proposing a whole new religion to replace the covenantal relationship between Israel and God. The religion of Christianity was in reality developed by the church fathers who sought to expunge the Jewish roots of the faith and to force Jews to renounce their covenantal identity to be considered Christian. The issue on this occasion was not the Torah, but Pharisee additions to the Torah. So, disciples of Yeshua would fast in the future, but not for ritual sake or as virtue-signaling to prove their righteousness to God.

37 "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined.

Reference: Matthew 9:17; Mark 2:22.

The next parable further develops the teaching of the previous parable. And: Grk. kai, conj. no one: Grk. oudeis, adj. puts: Grk. ballō, pres., cause movement toward a position, which may be used of a vigorous action and be translated as "cast, throw or hurl," or of a more subdued action and be translated as "put, place, lay or bring" (BAG). The second usage applies here. new: Grk. neos, adj., in existence for a relatively short time, something recently made; fresh, new. Here the adjective indicates immaturity in fermentation. wine: Grk. oinos, the fermented beverage of wine made from grapes.

Wine was a popular beverage in ancient times and in Israelite culture featured especially in tabernacle or temple sacrifices (Ex 29:40). Some Bible expositors have asserted that the Hebrew and Greek words used to mean "wine," especially "new wine," actually referred to grape juice. However, the pasteurization process to prevent fermentation of grape juice wasn't discovered until the 19th century. In Scripture "wine" always refers to the fermented beverage regardless of its age, which explains why there were warnings about overindulgence (Prov 20:1; Hos 4:11), and prohibitions of drinking in some sacred ceremonies (Lev 10:9).

The mention of new wine reflects the fact that there were different kinds of wine. Yayin was the fully matured wine (Gen 9:21), tirosh was new wine (Gen 27:28) and shekar was an old, powerful wine, "strong drink" (Lev 10:9). New wine was included in the listing of blessings Israelites could expect in the land of Canaan (Gen 27:28; Deut 7:13; 11:14; Prov 3:10; Hos 2:8; Joel 2:19) and the "first fruits" of new wine were to be presented at the sanctuary (Deut 12:17; 14:23; 18:4).

The process of making wine began with gathering the grapes into a vat. A wooden roller or beam was lowered to press the grapes down into the vat. Next to the vat was a cistern, into which the juice ran through a connecting trough or pipe. The newly pressed wine was strained through a filter, such as a linen cloth, in order to remove husks, stalks, etc. New wine stood for at least forty days before it was admissible as a drink-offering. When the wine had sufficiently settled it was drawn off into leather bottles or other vessels for preservation. In addition, only wine suitable for a temple drink offering could be used in a Kiddush blessing on a Sabbath or at a festival meal. (See the article on "Wine" in Jewish Encyclopedia.)

into: Grk. eis, prep. old: Grk. palaios, adj. See the previous verse. wineskins: pl. of Grk. askos, skin or hide, from which was made a leather bag or bottle, frequently used as a container for wine. For Jews the wine bottle would have to be made from a ritually clean animal, such as sheep or goat. Gill notes a saying from the Talmud, "The bottles of the Gentiles, if scraped and "new," they are free for use; if "old," they are forbidden'' (Avodah Zarah 33a).The mention of wineskin naturally alludes to the profession of tanning (Acts 9:43; 10:6), which offers a certain irony to Yeshua's proverb.

Tanners were exempt from appearing at the Temple on pilgrimage festivals because their unpleasant odor prevented them from going up with all the men (Chagigah 7b). Though generally despised as a profession (Kiddushin 82a), the tanner's trade was very necessary to make not only ordinary items like sandals, shoes, animal straps and harnesses, and wineskins, but also the ritually important Torah scrolls, straps that comprise the phylacteries (Ex 16:13), and the contents of mezuzot, the parchment of Scripture contained in a decorative case and attached to a doorpost (Deut 6:9)

Yeshua does not offer an explanation of what he means by "new wine" or "old wineskins" as he will later when he allegorizes the parable of the soils (Luke 8:11-14). Moreover, his disciples do not quiz him on the meaning of the parable (cf. Mark 7:17; Luke 8:9). The fact of wine being a beverage to be drunk illustrates the idea that "new wine" is something internalized. Ellicott in his comment on the Matthew passage suggests that "new wine represents the inner, as the garment did the outer, aspect of Christian life, the new energies and gifts of the Spirit, which, as on the day of Pentecost, were likened by observers to new wine (Acts 2:13)."

Other Christian commentators interpret "new wine" as representing freedom in contrast to the requirements of the Law (Gill, Lumby). However, Yeshua never advocated freedom from obeying God's commandments that marked His covenantal relationship with Israel. TPC interprets "new wine" to be "the teaching of Jesus in all its freshness, originality, and power." The Jewish scholar Amy-Jill Levine, who is not a believer, similarly comments that the parabolic saying "likely indicates that the old (non-messianic Judaism) and the new (Jesus' teachings) are incompatible (112).

A simpler approach might be to view the "new wine" as faith in Yeshua as the Messiah, considering Peter's later confession (Luke 9:20). In addition, with the hard work producing the new wine, the immature beverage could represent discipleship. Another element to consider is that Levi may have served "new wine" at his banquet and Scripture says that "new wine" is wine that "cheers God and men" (Jdg 9:13; Ps 4:7). In the apostolic narratives the scribes and Pharisees never appear to be happy men, but "sinners" being the recipients of forgiveness were having a good time with Yeshua.

otherwise: Grk. ei de mēge. See the previous verse. the new: Grk. ho neos. wine: Grk. ho oinos. will burst: Grk. rhēgnumi, fut., cause to come apart by application of force, rip apart. Old wineskins have lost their strength and elasticity, so that they cannot withstand the pressure of new wine still fermenting (Stern 37). and: Grk. kai. it will be spilled: Grk. ekchunnomai, fut. pass., cause to come out in a stream; pour out, spill. and: Grk. kai. the skins: pl. of Grk. ho askos. will be ruined: Grk. apollumi, fut. mid., 3p-pl., to cause severe damage, here with the sense of permanent ruin. The last clause of the verse affirms the folly of putting new wine into old wineskins.

38 "But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.

But: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 14 above. new: Grk. neos, adj. See the previous verse. wine: Grk. oinos. See the previous verse. must be put: Grk. blēteos, a verbal adjective of ballō; one must put, that ought to be put (LSJ). The word occurs only here in the Besekh. This is logical since a liquid must be kept in a container to be usable. into: Grk. eis, prep. The term blēteos does not occur in classical Greek literature or earlier Jewish literature, so blēteos eis may have been coined by Luke to translate a Hebrew construction such as natan el "put into" (Ex 25:16). fresh: Grk. kainos, adj. See verse 36 above. In contrast to neos which stresses time, kainos stresses quality. wineskins: pl. of Grk. askos. See the previous verse. Fresh wineskins have not absorbed any wine (Avodah Zarah 33a).

The assertion of this verse is completely logical and common sense. As a contrast between Messianic faith and Pharisee philosophy David Stern offers this analysis:

"The meaning of the figure is that the new wine of Messianic living cannot be poured into old religious forms if they remain rigid. But if the old religious forms become 'fresh,' they can accommodate Yeshua. When kainos is rendered 'new,' as in many translations, the implication seems to be that Judaism cannot possibly be a suitable framework for honoring Yeshua the Jewish Messiah—only the 'new wineskin' of Gentilized Christianity will work. This is a peculiar conclusion, especially if it is recalled that Yeshua was speaking with his fellow Jews. As rendered here the point is that the only vessel which can hold the new wine of Messianic life in a Jewish setting is a properly renewed, restored, reconditioned and refreshed Judaism, such as Messianic Judaism was in the first century and aims to be now." (37)

Another approach is to avoid contrasting religious systems, Messianic Judaism vs. non-Messianic Judaism. If the "new wine" represents Messianic faith and "wineskins" represent people, and "old wineskins" refer to the scribes and Pharisees, then the idea of "fresh wineskins" implies a spiritual transformation. Thus, Yeshua's axiom has a broader application that applies even to Gentiles. It might be fair to say that the disciples were not yet "fresh wineskins" because they had not been renewed by the Holy Spirit.

39 "And no one having drunk old wine desires new; for he says, 'The old is good enough.'"

And: Grk. kai, conj. no one: Grk. oudeis, adj. See verse 5 above. having drunk: Grk. pinō, aor. part. See verse 30 above. old wine: Grk. palaios, adj. See verse 36 above. The adjective is used here of aged wine. desires: Grk. thelō, pres. See verse 12 above. new: Grk. neos, adj. See verse 37 above. for: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 9 above. he says: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 4 above. The old: Grk. ho palaios. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. good enough: Grk. chrēstos, adj. (from chráomai, "to furnish what is suitable, useful"), good, serviceable or useful.

Contrary to the translation of chrēstos in many versions as "better," Yeshua is not saying that in his parabolic comparison aged wine is qualitatively better than new wine. Rather, the added note of rejection voiced by Yeshua's critics, which occurs only in Luke, illustrates why for some salvation was impossible (cf. Luke 18:25). Scribes and Pharisees locked in their legalistic philosophy could not embrace the "new wine" of Yeshua. For one Pharisee it would take a traumatic experience on the road to Damascus.

Works Cited

ABP: The Apostolic Bible Polyglot, trans. Charles Van Der Pool. The Apostolic Press, 2006. LXX-English Interlinear.

BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 4th ed. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.

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DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.

DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 Vols. Colin Brown, ed. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.

DSB: Henry M. Morris (1918-2006), The Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing Co., 1995. KJV with notes by Dr. Morris. [Formerly President of Institute for Creation Research]

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Neil: James Neil, Palestine Explored. James Nisbet & Co., 1882.

Nicoll: W. Robertson Nicoll (1851–1923), The Expositor's Greek Testament (1897), 5 vols. Online.

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Robertson: Archibald T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 6 Vols. Broadman Press, 1933. Online.

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